"Rust" script supervisor sues Alec Baldwin and producers over fatal shooting, and says Baldwin should have checked the gun
The script supervisor for "Rust" filed a lawsuit Wednesday over the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, alleging that Alec Baldwin and many others involved with producing the film failed in their duty to keep the set safe. Mamie Mitchell's lawsuit comes weeks after Baldwin fired a gun that was believed to be safe during rehearsals for the film, fatally striking Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.
The lawsuit alleges that the film's producers and others repeatedly jeopardized the safety of the cast and crew by skimping on safety measures to cut costs, and harshly criticizes Baldwin for his alleged failure to check the gun when it was handed to him. The lawsuit also claims Baldwin fired the gun while it was pointed towards Hutchins, Souza and Mitchell, even though the scene did not call for a gun to be fired and no one was filming.
"The fact that live ammunition was allowed on a movie set, that guns and ammunition were left unattended, that the gun in question was handed to Mr. Baldwin by the Assistant director who had no business doing so, the fact that safety bulletins were not promulgated or ignored, coupled with the fact that the scene in question did not call for a gun to be fired at all, makes this a case where injury or death was much more than just a possibility – it was a likely result."
The lawsuit alleges that guns had been misfired twice on the set prior to the fatal shooting — once when Baldwin's stunt double accidentally fired a blank and again when the prop master shot herself in the foot.
Mitchell alleges the gun used by Baldwin was "regularly left unattended" during filming, as was the cart storing ammunition, which would violate industry standards.
"Every safety protocol designed to ensure that firearms would be safely used were ignored, and actions that were taken were against all industry norms," the lawsuit said.
Mitchell alleges that many of the safety problems stemmed from the decision to hire armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, a 24-year-old with relatively little experience in the role. She said producers knew hiring Gutierrez-Reed "placed crew members in unsafe and dangerous conditions," but hired her anyway "based upon a prioritization of economic profit over ensuring the safety and wellbeing of crew members, including, without limitation, Plaintiff, Hutchins, and Souza."
Both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed declined to comment on the lawsuit, but Gutierrez-Reed has repeatedly said she doesn't know how a live round ended up in the gun. In a previous statement to CBS News, her attorneys said "Hannah did everything in her power to ensure a safe set," but blamed producers for not heeding her calls for more safety measures.
"The whole production set became unsafe due to various factors, including lack of safety meetings," the statement said. "This was not the fault of Hannah."
The day after the shooting, Baldwin called it a "tragic accident." He has not released many public statements on the incident but did share a coworker's post disputing allegations of an unsafe working environment on the set.
Many of the details surrounding the shooting remain unclear. According to a search warrant filed last month, Gutierrez-Reed told investigators she checked the gun that day and the gun was placed in a safe in a prop truck on set when the crew broke for lunch.
Before filming resumed, she said she retrieved the gun and showed it to Dave Halls, an assistant director, the documents said. Halls then gave the gun to Baldwin and yelled "cold gun" to indicate it was safe, according to another search warrant.
The lawsuit also took issue with how the gun was handled in the moments prior to the shooting. The suit said the gun should only be given to the actor by the armorer or prop master, not the assistant director, and said Baldwin was responsible for checking the gun himself. It also alleged that the cart was left unattended during the lunch break.
Halls has not commented on the specifics of the incident but said in early November that he was "shocked and saddened" by Hutchins' death.
In a statement accompanying the lawsuit, Mitchell said she relives the shooting "over and over again."
"I am depressed. I don't feel safe," she added. "I feel that at any moment anything could happen to me and to those that I care about that are standing close to me. I do not have a sense of guardrails in my life to keep me safe."
No one has yet been charged in the incident, which remains under investigation.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said last month that authorities recovered a "lead projectile," which they described as a bullet, from Souza's shoulder. Police said they also found "possible additional live rounds" on the set.
"I think there was some complacency on this set, and I think there are some safety issues that need to be addressed by the industry and possibly by the state of New Mexico, but I'll leave that up to the industry and the state as to what those need to be," Mendoza said.
This is the second lawsuit filed by someone who was working on the set at the time of the shooting. The head of lighting for the film alleged last week that he suffered "severe emotional distress" from alleged negligence that caused Hutchins' death, according to The Associated Press. The suit names almost two dozen defendants, including Baldwin, Halls and Gutierrez-Reed, the AP reported.
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