The family of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer killed on the set of the movie “Rust” last fall, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Alec Baldwin, the film’s production companies, its producers, and other key members of the crew.
Hutchins was fatally shot last October during a rehearsal for a scene for the film, which was being shot near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Director Joel Souza was also injured in the shooting which occurred when Baldwin practiced a draw with a revolver and fired the weapon.
The lawsuit, filed in Santa Fe, alleges numerous industry standard violations by Baldwin and others charged with safety on the set, attorney Brian Panish announced in a news conference Tuesday.
The lawsuit claims the production companies and producers “cut corners” and “chose to hire the cheapest crew available,” specifically noting that they “knowingly hired a wholly unqualified armorer,” and required her to split time in a second role as assistant props master.
“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 is no possibility of a discharge, blank or otherwise,” Aaron Dyer, attorney for Baldwin and other producers of “Rust,” said in a statement to CNN. “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.”
Both armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed and prop master Sarah Zachry are named in the lawsuit, along with assistant director Dave Halls, who, according to a previously filed affidavit, handed the gun to Baldwin just prior to the shooting. Halls’ attorney said he was not responsible for checking the gun.
During an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos late last year, Baldwin said he and Hutchins were going over how she wanted to position his hand before the gun went off, saying then, “I would never point a gun at anyone and then pull the trigger.”
“The gun was supposed to be empty; I was told I was handed an empty gun,” Baldwin said in the interview. “There’s only one question to be resolved … only one. And that is, where did the live round come from?”
Two crew members have told CNN that Gutierrez Reed mishandled weapons on a previous film project. She did not reply to CNN’s request for comment regarding those allegations. Gutierrez Reed is now suing the movie’s gun and ammunition supplier, accusing them of mixing up dummy rounds with live ammunition.
Safety concerns raised by the crew remained unaddressed, the lawsuit states, citing 15 specific safety protocols they allege were violated, including the use of a real gun instead of a dummy weapon, use of live ammunition on set, and improper storage.
“There are regulations and guidelines in place today that should prevent something like this from happening, but they need to be enforced,” Panish said. “Had they been followed, this never would have happened.”
Panish, who represents Hutchins’ husband and young son, also showed a nearly 10-minute video that included a short, highly-produced, animated reenactment of the shooting that led to the “senseless and tragic death of Halyna Hutchins.” The details of the reenactment are based on “factual allegations in the complaint made by the Hutchins Family,” according to a slate at the beginning of the video.
CNN has also reached out to Halls, Gutierrez Reed, Zachry, and the ‘Rust’ production company for comment.
CNN’s Jack Hannah contributed to this report.