Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin will not face criminal charges after all for shooting a woman dead on the set of his movie Rust in 2021.
Special prosecutors in New Mexico made the call to drop involuntary manslaughter charges without prejudice, citing "new facts" that call for "further investigation and forensic analysis in the case."
They didn't say what those facts were or where they came from, but they reportedly back up Baldwin's narrative that the prop gun he used went off by itself. The FBI previously analyzed the gun and concluded that would have been impossible.
But now prosecutors believe the gun may have been "modified" in a way that it could have discharged without the trigger being pulled.
The prop company that supplied the gun is disputing that, saying the gun was "not altered, touched, modified or tampered with at all.”
Baldwin shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October 2021 while rehearsing a scene. The actor says he bears no responsibility for firing a loaded gun, and that others involved in the movie's production are at fault.
Armorer Hannah Guttierez-Reed is still facing two charges of involuntary manslaughter, and assistant director David Halls, who handed Baldwin the gun, was sentenced to probation after pleading to negligent use of a deadly weapon.
Baldwin's lawyers celebrated the news of the dropped charges, saying, "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."
The actor thanked his lawyers in an Instagram post dedicated to his wife Hilaria Baldwin, who made a post of her own that showed the couple embracing.
Special prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis said they could bring charges again in the future.
"This decision does not absolve Mr. Baldwin of criminal culpability and charges may be refiled," they said.
The charges were dropped on the same day that Baldwin resumed filming in Montana. Baldwin was facing up to 18 months in prison.
A weapons enhancement which could have added another five years was dropped after Baldwin's lawyers argued it wasn't on the books at the time of the slaying.
Baldwin reached a wrongful death settlement last year, but he is still fighting the victim's family in civil court, calling a lawsuit for damages "misguided."