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The family of slain cinematographer Halyna Hutchins has sued Alec Baldwin, along with others involved with “Rust,” for her October death.
The wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of Hutchins’ husband, Matthew Hutchins and the couple’s 9-year-old son, alleges that Baldwin “recklessly shot” Halyna on the set of the movie after he and others “failed to perform industry standard safety checks” and follow “basic gun safety rules,” according to the lawsuit obtained by Variety.
“It never should have happened,” attorney Brian Panish, who represents the Hutchins estate, said at a press conference, noting that Matthew had lost “the love of his life, and his son lost a mother.”
Hutchins was killed on Oct. 21 on the set of the western when a gun Baldwin was holding discharged and struck her in the chest during a rehearsal at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, according to search warrants in the case previously obtained by Oxygen.com.
The bullet, which authorities have described as a “live round,” also struck director Joel Souza in the shoulder. While Souza survived, Hutchins died from her injury at a New Mexico hospital.
“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 violation,” the lawsuit states.
The suit also names the film’s producers, along with crew members Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, David Halls, Sarah Zachry, Gabrielle Pickle, Seth Kenney and others.
Gutierrez Reed, who served as the film’s armorer, told authorities that on the day of the fatal shooting she and prop master Sarah Zachry had taken the guns to the set. She said she loaded the weapons with “dummy rounds” and handed the weapon off to Halls, the film’s first assistant director, who passed it to Baldwin, announcing that it was a “cold gun” or weapon with no live ammunition.
Kenney had allegedly supplied ammunition to the set.
Investigators with the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office are still trying to determine how the live ammunition got into the gun and, to date, no criminal charges have been filed in connection to the fatal shooting.
Yet in the lawsuit filed by Hutchins’ family members and Kristina Martinez, a personal representative of the wrongful death estate, attorneys allege that Baldwin and other producers on the film hired Gutierrez-Reed even though she was “unqualified” for the position and had to split her time fulfilling the roles of both armorer and assistant prop master as part of “aggressive cost cutting” maneuvers.
They allege that Baldwin, who served as an executive producer on the film as well as its star, and other producers also “ignored actual unintentional firearm discharges” that had happened on the set before the fatal shooting, according to the lawsuit.
They noted two separate occasions before the shooting where guns on the set “had been discharged in an unsafe manner while loaded with ammunition,” however, they said that when concerns were brought to production by concerned crew members they were “ignored.”
“The producers held no safety meetings. They took no action to prevent further unsafe handling of firearms,” the lawsuit alleges. “They did not suspend the production to investigate the weapons discharges or the inadequate adherence to safety protocols. Instead, the producers decided to go full steam ahead and rush the filming of the production to keep costs down.”
In response to the lawsuit, Aaron Dyer, an attorney who represents Baldwin and the other producers, said in a statement to Variety that everyone’s “hearts and thoughts remain with Halyna’s family as they continue to process this unspeakable tragedy.”
“We continue to cooperate with the authorities to determine how live ammunition arrived on the ‘Rust’ set in the first place. Any claim that Alec was reckless is entirely false. 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 was no possibility of a discharge, blank or otherwise,” he continued. “This protocol has worked on thousands of films, with millions of discharges, as there has never before been an incident on a set where an actual bullet harmed anyone. Actors should be able to rely on armorers and prop department professionals, as well as assistant directors, rather than deciding on their own when a gun is safe to use.”
At the press conference to announce the lawsuit, Panish also showed a nearly 10-minute video including an animated reenactment of the shooting, CNN reports. According to Panish, the video was created using “factual allegations in the complaint made by the Hutchins Family.”
Oxygen.com reached out to both Panish and Dryer, but did not receive an immediate response.
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