Following the news that criminal charges against him were dropped in the Rust case, Alec Baldwin was back on the set of the Western film on Friday, almost two years after a gun he was practicing with went off and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October of 2021.
Baldwin's return to the set, which was moved to Montana from its original location in New Mexico, serves as an important win for the 30 Rock actor, who has fought a major legal battle since the tragic incident.
After criminal charges against him were dropped, Baldwin took to Instagram to thank his wife Hilaria Baldwin for her constant support, noting "I owe everything I have to this woman. (and to you, Luke)," seemingly referring to his lawyer, Luke Nikas.
In a statement to Yahoo Entertainment, the actor's attorneys, Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, praised the decision to drop charges against Baldwin.
"We are pleased with the decision to dismiss the case against Alec Baldwin and we encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident," they shared.
What is Baldwin being accused of?
Baldwin was rehearsing with the gun that went off and killed Hutchins, but the actor maintained that he did not pull the trigger. In an interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos in December of 2021, Baldwin said he was rehearsing a scene in which he was to draw his gun and cock the hammer, while Hutchins directed him where to point the gun in order to get the best shot. He claimed he had no idea that the gun contained a live round, and "the notion that there was a live round in that gun did not dawn on me till probably 45 minutes to an hour later.”
The parents and sister of Hutchins went on to file a lawsuit against Baldwin and others involved with the production over her death. Baldwin pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and faced up to 18 months in prison if found guilty. When it was first announced he would be criminally charged, he faced five years in prison if convicted on the most serious count of involuntary manslaughter, due to prosecutors including a five-year mandatory firearm enhancement. However, the law did not exist at the time of the Rust shooting.
Where does the case stand now?
Gloria Allred, the lawyer pursuing a case against Baldwin, told Yahoo Entertainment in a statement that the criminal charges being dropped against Baldwin won't affect the civil suit against the actor. In a statement to Yahoo Entertainment, Allred discussed the dropped charges and resolved to move forward.
"No matter what happens in the criminal case in New Mexico which was filed against Alec Baldwin, we are committed to proceeding with our civil lawsuit on behalf of our clients. We represent Mamie Mitchell, the former script supervisor for Rust," Allred said. "In addition, we represent Halyna’s mother Olga Solovey, Halyna’s father Anatolii Androsovych, and Halyna’s sister Svetlana Zemko."
Allred went on to say that Baldwin has "failed" to have the civil case dismissed against him, as well as to block the court from seeking punitive damages against him.
"Despite the prosecutor's decision to dismiss the criminal charge against Alec Baldwin without prejudice, the victims of Alec Baldwin that we represent remain hopeful," the statement read. "He has even sunk so low as to attack Halyna Hutchins’ grieving mother, father, and sister for seeking to make him accountable for his part in the death of Halyna Hutchins."
While criminal charges against Baldwin have been dropped, the Rust case isn't over. The film's weapons handler, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, is still charged; however, her attorneys believe she will be "exonerated" too, Yahoo Entertainment previously reported.
Last month, Baldwin scored a win when special prosecutor Andrea Reeb announced she was stepping down from the case, a major blow to the prosecution. That came one month after the actor's legal team filed a motion asking the judge to have her dismissed, claiming her status as a Republican lawmaker in the New Mexico House of Representatives was "unconstitutional."