Ever since cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed in a shooting on the set of the movie “Rust” last October, Alec Baldwin has maintained he did nothing to cause her death, even though the gun that discharged was in his hand and pointed directly at her when it fired.
The criminal investigation into the shooting is still ongoing, but Hutchins’ family has now filed a civil suit against Baldwin “and others”, arguing that the “reckless behavior” of those responsible for safety on the set resulted in her death.
Among the allegations laid out by the attorneys for the family is the claim that the negligent discharge that killed Hutchins was actually the fourth discharge of a firearm on the set. Camera operator Lane Luper texted a production manager five days before Hutchins was killed complaining that the set was “super unsafe” and that there had been three negligent discharges of a firearm.
“The Producers chose not to take the safety complaint by Mr. Luper seriously and brushed the safety concerns under the rug because investigating and addressing these safety concerns would delay production and stretch the production budget,” states the complaint. “On the morning of Ms. Hutchins’s tragic death, October 21, 2021, the safety dangers of the production had reached a crisis point. The local camera crew members were so upset by the producers’ utter disregard for the safety that they protested the safety conditions by going on strike.”
Rust was left with a “skeleton crew,” according to the complaint, when they set up the scene at Bonanza Creek church.
This is what they allege happened leading up to the unintentional discharge that caused Hutchins’ death:
“Defendant Armorer Gutierrez-Reed, who was responsible for maintaining the revolver and the ammunition while on set, had left the revolver and ammunition out of the safe she maintained for securing firearms on the set. Defendant Gutierrez-Reed did not verify the revolver or ammunition were safe before the first assistant director, Defendant Halls, took the revolver to Defendant Baldwin. Defendant Halls never verified the revolver was safe before handing it to Defendant Baldwin. Defendant Baldwin accepted the gun from Defendant Halls, rather than the production’s armorer. Defendant Baldwin never verified the gun was safe before operating the gun, nor did he require the armorer or Defendant Halls to demonstrate in his presence that the gun was safe.”
There are other extenuating factors that could come into play here as well, including the allegation that Baldwin skipped a safety training session. That claim was made by “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who’s not only a defendant in the lawsuit filed by Hutchins family, but is the plaintiff in a lawsuit she filed against the supplier of dummy rounds used on the set.
I have no idea how all of these various lawsuits are going to shake out, but I’d be nervous if I were Baldwin. Not only was he holding the gun and pointing it at Hutchins when it discharged (though Baldwin maintains he never pulled the trigger), but he was a producer on the film as well, and bears at least some responsibility for ensuring that the set was safe for both cast and crew.
I still can’t understand why the crew didn’t set up a monitor for Hutchins and director Joel Souza to look at that wasn’t located directly behind the camera that Baldwin was pointing at, which would have been an easy way to avoid Baldwin having to point the barrel of the gun at crew members, but it sounds like multiple basic gun safety rules were violated that day, starting with the blatant disregard for Rule #1- treat every gun as if it’s loaded until you personally prove otherwise.