Criminal charges against Alec Baldwin have been dropped for a fatal shooting on set, according to his attorneys.
The Emmy Award-winning actor has been charged with two counts of manslaughter following the shooting while filming Rust in New Mexico.
Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed by live ammunition fired from a prop gun used by Baldwin in October 2021.
Development comes less than two weeks before the start of a trial.
“We are pleased with the decision to close the case against Alec Baldwin and we encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident,” his lawyer, Luke Nikas, told the BBC in a statement.
Mr Baldwin had been practicing firing the gun on a ranch set near Santa Fe when it went off, fatally striking 42-year-old Ukrainian-born Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.
The actor denied pulling the trigger, although an FBI report later concluded that the gun could not have been fired without the trigger being pulled.
He was due to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on May 3.
The film’s gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, also faces two counts of manslaughter. It is unclear whether prosecutors will also drop the charges against her.
A lawyer for Ms Gutierrez-Reed told AP News they “fully expect at the end of this process that Hannah will also be exonerated.”
According to the LA Times, prosecutors had recently learned that the weapon used in the shooting, a Colt .45 revolver, had been modified with a new trigger in a way that could have made a misfire more likely.
Prosecutors had accused Mr Baldwin, 65, of showing a “reckless” disregard for the safety of his colleagues.
Mr Nikas, lawyer for The Hunt for Red October star, previously called the initial decision to charge his client a “terrible miscarriage of justice”.
“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on set,” Mr. Nikas said.
“He relied on the professionals he was working with, who assured him the gun had no live ammunition.”
To be found guilty, prosecutors would have had to convince a jury that he acted with “criminal negligence”.
If found guilty, he could have faced up to 18 months in prison.
The Santa Fe District Attorney originally added a firearms enhancement charge, which could have added five years to his sentence.
But it was dropped after prosecutors determined the enhancement law was not in effect at the time of the shooting.
The Sante Fe District Attorney’s Office directed the BBC to the office of a special prosecutor handling the case. The special prosecutor did not immediately respond to inquiries.
The decision to drop the charges comes the same day Rust resumed filming – 18 months after filming.
Melina Spadone, attorney for Rust Movie Productions, said the new on-set rules “will prohibit any use of working weapons and any form of ammunition.”
“Live ammunition is – and always has been – prohibited on set.”
According to Variety magazine, Mr. Baldwin is currently filming Rust in Montana.
Hutchins’ widower, Matthew, will serve as executive producer. Baldwin last October reached a settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by her family.
Rust Movie Productions, of which Baldwin is a part, said in February that the scene that was being rehearsed when Hutchins was filmed has now been rewritten.
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