“Rust” producers deny safety failures over fatal shooting
May 11, 2022 - The producers of Alec Baldwin movie “Rust” have disputed an official report saying they were indifferent to gun safety before an on-set shooting tragedy killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
In April, the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (a division of the New Mexico Environment Department) imposed its maximum fine on Rust Movie Productions, LLP for “serious and wilful” failures.
Now the film’s producers, of which movie star Alec Baldwin is one, has filed legal documents to say it “did not ‘wilfully’ violate any safety protocol”.
It’s six months since Baldwin accidentally killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the low-budget western “Rust”, when a gun he was holding went off.
The accident happened on October 21, 2021, while rehearsing a scene inside a wooden chapel on Bonanza Creek Ranch in New Mexico – a popular western location seen in the likes of Jimmy Stewart’s 1955 “The Man from Laramie” and Paul Newman and Robert Redford’s 1969 “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”.
As the crew worked out positions for the scene, Baldwin, playing a grizzled 1880s Kansas outlaw, inadvertently fired a live round from an Italian-made Pietta Long Colt revolver replica – the bullet passing through Hutchins’ midriff and lodging in director Joel Souza’s shoulder.
Hutchins died in flight to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, while Souza was later discharged from hospital nursing a wound.
As ensuing investigations run their course, several key players have issued negligence law suits against Rust Movie Productions, LLC and members of the crew. Hutchins’ family have also filed a wrongful death suit which names Baldwin, assistant director Dave Halls, Armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, prop master Sarah Zachry, and others as defendants – seeking unspecified damages.
On April 10, 2022, the producers, of which Baldwin is one, were fined $136,793 by New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau, who said “management knew that firearm safety procedures were not being followed on set and demonstrated plain indifference to employee safety”.
Criminal investigations by Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office and the First Judicial District Attorney are awaiting completion of an FBI ballistics report and other evidence before they can draw conclusions as to how a live bullet wound up in a movie prop revolver.
- Rust: Producers of Alec Baldwin film deny safety failures over shooting (BBC)
- Dave Halls, the assistant director, said he did not thoroughly check the gun he handed to Alec Baldwin, according to an affidavit (New York Times)
- Rust production fined for safety violation after shooting death (Vanity Fair)
- Alec Baldwin moves to shield himself from liability in deadly ‘Rust’ shooting (Hollywood Reporter)
- Lives lost behind-the-scenes: Timeline of fatal on-set movie accidents, injuries (ABC News)