Family of Late Halyna Hutchins Sues Alec Baldwin Over ‘Rust’ Incident

The family of late cinematographer Halyna Hutchins has filed a lawsuit against Alec Baldwin and others involved in the film, alleging reckless behavior and cost-cutting led to his death. According to Variety, Hutchins was fatally shot Oct. 21 while preparing for a scene at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Baldwin, the film‘s star, was holding the gun when she fired, although he said he didn’t pull the trigger. Hutchins was shot in the chest and the bullet lodged in the shoulder of the director, Joel Souza. Hutchins was airlifted to a hospital in Albuquerque, where she died.

She left behind her husband, Matthew Hutchins, and the couple’s 9-year-old son. “He lost his longtime wife who was the love of his life, and his son lost a mother,” Brian Panish, who represents Hutchins’ estate, said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit. “It should never have happened.”

The lawsuit, filed in New Mexico, cites text messages and emails sent by Lane Luper, the camera assistant who raised red flags about accidental discharges on set and who left the production along with several others just before Hutchins died. The lawsuit also alleges that Baldwin violated numerous rules for the safe handling of firearms. It also suggests that Baldwin committed reckless discharge of a deadly weapon, “which is a criminal offense in the state of New Mexico.” Baldwin said he did not expect to face criminal charges, although the local prosecutor declined to rule out that possibility.

Randi McGinn, the estate attorney in Albuquerque, said she expects the lawsuit to go to trial within a year and a half to two years, which she says is relatively quick. “In New Mexico, we’re used to people coming from out of town to play cowboy who don’t know how to use guns,” McGinn said. “You don’t give someone a gun until you give them safety training… No one should ever die with a real gun on an imaginary film set.”

In addition to Baldwin, the suit names seven producers as defendants — Ryan Smith, Allen Cheney, Nathan Klingher, Ryan Winterstern, Anjul Nigam, Matthew DelPiano and Emily Salveson — as well as crew members Sarah Zachry, Dave Halls, Hannah Gutierrez . Reed, Gabrielle Pickle, Seth Kenney and others. The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident, focusing on determining how a live bullet arrived on set. Search warrants revealed that the gunsmith, Gutierrez Reed, had loaded the Colt .45 with what she believed to be dummy bullets. She then gave the gun to Halls, the first assistant director, who proclaimed it to be a “cold gun”, while handing it to Baldwin.

Three other members of the team have already filed a complaint: Mamie Mitchell, the screenwriter, Serge Svetnoy, the gaffer, and Cherlyn Schaefer, the key nurse. Gutierrez Reed also sued Kenney, who provided ammunition to the set, alleging he mixed live and dummy ammunition. The production had a liability policy with a $6 million limit. In response to Mitchell’s lawsuit, the producers – including Baldwin – argued that the case should be dismissed because it involves a work accident, which should be handled by the state workers’ compensation system.

Aaron Dyer, the attorney representing Baldwin and the other producers, released a statement in response to the complaint. “Everyone’s hearts and thoughts remain with Halyna’s family as they continue to process this untold tragedy,” Dyer said. “We continue to cooperate with authorities to determine how live ammunition arrived on the set of ‘Rust’ in the first place. Any claims that Alec was reckless are entirely false. He, Halyna and the rest of the crew have supported by the declaration of the two professionals in charge of verifying the weapon that it was a “cold weapon” – which means that there is no possibility of discharge, blank or otherwise.”

Dyer added: “This protocol has worked on thousands of films, with millions of dumps, because there has never been an incident on set where a live bullet has injured someone. Actors should be able to count on gunsmiths and prop department professionals, as well as assistant managers, rather than deciding for themselves when a firearm is safe to use.” At the press conference, Panish showed a video that included a recreation of the shooting using computer animation, along with supporting documents exposing the negligence allegations. (ANI)

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