Alec Baldwin and "Rust" movie producers sued by family of cinematographer who was killed
The family of a cinematographer shot and killed on the set of the film "Rust" is suing Alec Baldwin and the movie's producers for wrongful death, their attorneys said Tuesday. Lawyers for the family of Halyna Hutchins announced the lawsuit filed in New Mexico in the name of Hutchins' husband, Matthew Hutchins, and their son, Andros, at a Los Angeles news conference.
At least three other lawsuits have been filed over the shooting, but this is the first directly tied to one of the two people shot.
The "reckless conduct and cost-cutting measures" of Baldwin and the film's producers "led to the death of Halyna Hutchins," attorney Brian Pannish said.
A video created by the attorneys showed an animated recreation of the shooting.
Baldwin was pointing a gun at Hutchins during the setup for the filming of a scene for the western in New Mexico on October 21 when it went off, killing Hutchins and wounding the director, Joel Souza. Baldwin has said he was pointing the gun at Hutchins at her instruction and it went off without him pulling the trigger.
The attorneys said in the video that Baldwin had turned down training for the kind of gun draw he was doing when he shot Hutchins.
It said industry standards call for using a rubber or similar prop gun during the setup that was happening, and there was no call for a real gun.
In a statement to CBS News, an attorney for Baldwin and other "Rust" producers said any claim that Baldwin 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. 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," the attorney said. "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."
Last month, nearly three months after the shooting, Baldwin turned over his cellphone to authorities in his home state of New York. They gathered information from the phone and provided it to Santa Fe County investigators, who had obtained a warrant for it.
Investigators have described "some complacency" in how weapons were handled on the "Rust" set. They have said it is too soon to determine whether charges will be filed.
Baldwin said he does not believe he will be criminally charged in the shooting.
The film's script supervisor and its lead camera operator, both of whom were standing a few feet away when Hutchins was shot, have also filed lawsuits.
And the film's armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who was named as a defendant in those lawsuits and blamed by some for the shooting, filed her own suit saying an ammunition supplier created dangerous conditions by including live ammunition in a box that was supposed to include only dummy rounds.
In an interview with ABC News in December, Baldwin said he felt incredible sadness over the shooting, but not guilt.
"Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can't say who that is, but it's not me," Baldwin said.
He said Hutchins had asked him to point the gun just off camera and toward her armpit before it went off.
"I didn't pull the trigger," Baldwin said. "I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them. Never."
He called Hutchins "somebody who was loved by everybody and admired by everybody who worked with her."
Hutchins, 42, grew up on a remote Soviet military base and worked on documentary films in Eastern Europe before studying film in Los Angeles and embarking on a promising movie-making career.
On her Instagram page, Hutchins identified herself as a "restless dreamer" and "adrenaline junkie."
In a 2019 interview with American Cinematographer, which named her one of the year's rising stars, she described herself as an "army brat" drawn to movies because "there wasn't that much to do outside." She would document herself parachuting and exploring caves, among other adventures, and through her work with British filmmakers, became "fascinated with storytelling based on real characters."
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