Actor Alec Baldwin is among several defendants named in a wrongful death suit following the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of “Rust” in October.
On Tuesday, Matthew Hutchins filed a lawsuit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on behalf of himself and his son Andros Hutchins, alleging that Baldwin recklessly fatally shot Hutchins’ 42-year-old wife and that the “Rust” production failed to perform industry-standard safety checks or follow basic gun safety rules.
“Halyna Hutchins deserved to live, and the defendants had the power to prevent her death if they had only held sacrosanct their duty to protect the safety of every individual on a set where firearms were present instead of cutting corners on safety procedures where human lives were at stake, rushing to stay on schedule and ignoring numerous complaints of safety violations,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, including punitive damages. No criminal charges have been filed by the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office, and the investigation is reported to be ongoing.
An aerial view of the film set on Bonanza Creek Ranch where Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded a director when he discharged a prop gun on the movie set of the film “Rust” in Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S., in this frame grab taken from October 21, 2021 television footage. Footage taken October 21, 2021.
KOB TV NEWS | Reuters
This lawsuit is only one of several that have been filed in the wake of the incident. Hutchins’ family is being represented by Panish Shea Boyle Ravipudi, with Brian Panish acting as lead attorney, as well as the law firm Montoya, Love and Curry with Randi McGinn acting as lead lawyer.
“Any claim that Alec was reckless is entirely false,” said Aaron Dyer, of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, an attorney for Alec Baldwin and other producers of “Rust,” in a statement.
“He, Halyna and the rest of the crew relied on the statement by the two professionals responsible for checking the gun that it was a “cold gun” — meaning there is no possibility of a discharge, blank or otherwise,” he said.
Dyer added that his clients continue to cooperate with authorities to determine how live ammunition arrived on the set in the first place.
Investigators probing the fatal movie set shooting found a lead projectile in the shoulder of director Joel Souza, who was injured during the incident in New Mexico, that they believe was the cause of death for Hutchins.
Around 500 rounds were found on the set, which were a mix of blank ammunition, dummy rounds and live rounds.
Court documents released in October show Baldwin was handed a loaded weapon by an assistant director who indicated it was safe to use in the moments before the actor fatally shot Halyna Hutchins. A search warrant filed in a Santa Fe court shows that the assistant director did not know the prop gun was loaded with live rounds.
Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins is seen in this undated handout photo received by Reuters on October 23, 2021.
Swen Studios | via Reuters
Assistant director David Halls admitted to investigators he should have inspected all the rounds in the handgun before the accidental shooting. Halls picked up the gun and brought it over to the production’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, to be checked prior to a rehearsal for a scene.
Halls previously was fired from the set of “Freedom’s Path” in 2019 after a crew member incurred a minor and temporary injury when a gun unexpectedly discharged, a producer on the project told NBC News.
Gutierrez-Reed, too, reportedly had a history of not adhering to safety measures. The young armorer allegedly was the subject of numerous complaints on her previous film just two months prior to the “Rust” shooting after she discharged weapons without warning.
“The ‘Rust’ Production involved extensive use of firearms and required an experienced firearms expert with the skill and qualifications to maintain constant vigilance for safety matters … Defendant Gutierrez-Reed was an inexperienced weapons master with only one movie production under her belt, unqualified for the degree of skill required on the ‘Rust’ set,” the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit claims that producers ignored Gutierrez-Reed’s concerns about performing two major roles within the production, armorer and assistant prop master, and disregarded unintentional firearm discharges that had occurred on set that were a result of Gutierrez-Reed’s inability to perform her duties as armorer.
The lawsuit alleged that “Rust” producers “utilized aggressive cost-cutting practices” that jeopardized and endangered the safety of cast and crew on set. This included hiring Gutierrez-Reed to perform two roles on set, rushing its production schedule and hiring unqualified and inexperienced crew that were responsible for safety during the production.