LOS ANGELES — The family of a cinematographer shot and killed on the set of the film “Rust” sued Alec Baldwin and the movie’s producers Tuesday alleging their “callous” disregard in the face of safety complaints led directly to her death.
At a news conference announcing the lawsuit, attorneys for the husband and 9-year-old son of Halyna Hutchins said that Baldwin refused training for the type of “cross-draw” he was performing when he fired the shot that killed her.
Baldwin’s attorney responded that any claim the actor was reckless is “entirely false.”
The suit filed in New Mexico’s Santa Fe County in the name of Matthew and Andros Hutchins shows a text message exchange between a camera operator and a producer in which a complaint over gun safety was met with what the suit calls “callous sarcasm.”
The operator, Lane Luper, texted unit production manager Katherine Walters saying: “We’ve now had 3 accidental discharges. This is super unsafe.”
Walters responds: “Accidental discharge on the firearm? Awesome. Sounds good.”
There have been at least four lawsuits filed regarding the shooting. However, this case is the first to be directly linked with one of the victims.
The defendants’ “reckless conduct and cost-cutting measures led to the death of Halyna Hutchins,” attorney Brian Panish said.
Had proper protocols been followed, the suit says, “Halyna Hutchins would be alive and well, hugging her husband and 9-year-old son. ”
Baldwin was also the producer of the film. He was shooting at Hutchins in a church as he was setting up for filming a scene for the Western. On Oct. 21, the gun went off and killed Hutchins. It injured the director Joel Souza. A cartoon of what happened at the news conference was presented by attorneys.
Baldwin claimed that he pointed the gun at Hutchins, at her direction. The trigger went off and Baldwin didn’t pull the trigger.
According to the suit, industry standards require that a prop gun be used during setup. A rubber gun or similar is not required.
The document also states that David Halls and Baldwin should have checked for live ammunition before giving the gun to them.
The suit also names as defendants Halls, Walters, the film’s armorer Hannah Guttierez Reed, and ammunition supplier Seth Kenney.
“Any claim that Alec was reckless is entirely false,” Aaron Dyer, attorney for Baldwin and other producers, said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”
He added that “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.”
Baldwin gave his cell phone to police last month. Dyer stated that he is continuing to cooperate with investigators.
Authorities have described “some complacency” in how weapons were handled on the “Rust” set. It is not yet clear if any charges will ever be laid, they said.
Baldwin stated that he doesn’t believe Baldwin will face criminal charges in connection to the shooting.
Numerous crew members filed lawsuits against Kenney, Gutierrez Reed and others.
Jason Bowles was not available to comment immediately on Kenney’s new lawsuit. Kenney’s attorney could not be located. Kenney has stated that his company never sent any live rounds to this set.
Baldwin stated that Hutchins asked him to aim the gun at her armpit just before it fired.
“I didn’t pull the trigger,” Baldwin said. “I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them. Never.”
Panish stated Tuesday that this assertion was untrue.
“I think it’s clear what happened,” he said. “Alec had the gun in his hand, he shot it, Halyna was killed.”
Panish claimed that the amount would be significant, although it is not stated in the complaint.
“A longtime marriage, a soulmate is lost, and a boy to be raised without a mother at a young age is a tremendous loss,” he said. “And anyone who’s even been close to that experience knows, that that goes on forever and ever and ever.”
The plaintiffs’ attorney in New Mexico, Randi McGinn, said the lawsuit is likely to move much more quickly than if it were filed in California, as others have been.
“In New Mexico, we’re used to people coming in from out of town to play cowboy, who don’t know how to use guns,” McGinn said.
Hutchins (42), grew up in a Soviet military base. He worked in documentary filmmaking in Eastern Europe, before moving to Los Angeles to study film and begin a promising career in movie-making.
On her Instagram page, Hutchins identified herself as a “restless dreamer” and “adrenaline junkie.”
In 2019, American Cinematographer called her “one of the year’s rising stars.”
Dyer’s statement said: “Everyone’s hearts and thoughts remain with Halyna’s family as they continue to process this unspeakable tragedy.”