The Special Prosecutor’s Office’s decision to drop the charges against Alec Baldwin in the fatal “Rust” on-set shooting was made, at least in part, because investigators found the fired weapon to be mechanically improper, a source familiar with the matter told ABC News .
Baldwin, 65, had been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter after he fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, on the western’s New Mexico set in October 2021. The actor was practicing a crusade when the gun fired, hitting the cameraman.
Investigators effectively performed an autopsy on the Colt .45 revolver and found that there were worn joints and that the trigger control was not working properly, according to the source.
According to the source, prosecutors realized the gun could be fired without pulling the trigger.
On Thursday, the newly appointed special prosecutors in the case confirmed the charges against the actor had been dropped, although they noted their investigation was “active and ongoing.”
Baldwin told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview after the shooting that he had “no idea” how a live bullet got on the set of his film, but that he “didn’t pull the trigger” that killed Hutchins.
“I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger, ever,” Baldwin told Stephanopoulos.
Baldwin’s attorneys said Thursday they were “satisfied” with the decision to dismiss the case against Baldwin and “encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident.”
Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis were appointed special prosecutors in the case last month when Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and State Rep. Andrea Reeb resigned from prosecuting the case.
In a statement Thursday night, Morrissey and Lewis said “new facts have been uncovered that require further investigation and forensic analysis into the case.”
“Consequently, under the current time constraints and the facts and evidence presented by law enforcement as they stand, we cannot proceed. We will therefore dismiss the involuntary manslaughter charge against Mr Baldwin pending further investigation,” they said. “This decision does not relieve Mr. Baldwin of criminal liability and the charges may be reinstated. Our follow-up will remain active and ongoing.”
The film’s gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, was also charged with double manslaughter in the death of Hutchins. Special prosecutors said Thursday the charges against Gutierrez-Reed “remain unchanged.” A status conference is planned for Friday afternoon
Amid the year-long investigation into the fatal shooting, an FBI forensic report found that the gun could not have been fired without pulling the trigger. Although Baldwin’s attorney at the time said the report was “misconstrued.”
“The gun fired only once in testing – without the need to pull the trigger – when the hammer was pulled back and the gun broke in two separate places,” attorney Luke Nikas said. “The FBI could not fire the gun in any previous test, even with the trigger pulled, because it was in such poor condition.”
This is an evolving story. Please check back for updates.