Alec Baldwin: Rust film producers were indifferent to gun safety - report

Published
Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
A photo of Halyna Hutchins at a vigil following her death in October

The producers of a film whose cinematographer was accidentally shot dead on set by Alec Baldwin have been fined and strongly criticised by authorities for failing to follow safety guidelines.

The makers of Rust showed "plain indifference to recognised hazards associated with use of firearms on set", according to the New Mexico Environment Department.

The agency has issued the maximum $136,793 (£105,000) fine to Rust Movie Productions.

Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza injured in October as Baldwin rehearsed with what he believed to be a safe gun.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Alec Baldwin has said he said he did not pull the trigger but the revolver fired after he cocked it

The actor, who was also a producer on the film, has previously said he did not pull the trigger and has no idea how a live bullet came to be on the set near Santa Fe.

The report said Rust Movie Productions' management "knew that firearm safety procedures were not being followed on set and demonstrated plain indifference to employee safety by failing to review work practices and take corrective action".

The company said it disagreed with the findings and would appeal.

'Serious and wilful' failures

New Mexico Environment Department cabinet secretary James Kenney said: "There were several management failures and more than sufficient evidence to suggest that if standard industry practices were followed, the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins and the serious injury to Joel Souza would not have occurred.

"Through our investigation, we determined that Rust Productions' failures were both serious and wilful."

He added: "The bottom line here is that it was the employers' obligation to follow national standards, and that did not happen on the set of Rust.

"This was a terrible tragedy and our thoughts are with the victim - a mother, a wife, an experienced cinematographer and a well respected member of the film community. Today we continue to extend our thoughts and prayers to her loved ones.

"While I realise no fine can compensate for the loss of life, we are holding Rust Productions fully accountable."

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The tragedy occurred at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe

In a statement to the Reuters news agency, Rust Movie Productions spokesman Stefan Friedman said: "While we appreciate OSHA's time and effort in its investigation, we disagree with its findings and plan to appeal. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Halyna's family."

Baldwin has previously said a live bullet "wasn't even supposed to be on the property", and that the replica Colt .45 revolver fired after he cocked it during rehearsals.

Baldwin's lawyers issued a statement after the report was released, saying: "We appreciate that the report exonerates Mr Baldwin by making clear that he believed the gun held only dummy rounds and that his authority on the production was limited to approving script changes and creative casting."

According to court records, Mr Baldwin had been handed the weapon by the film's assistant director, Dave Halls, who did not know it contained live ammunition and indicated it was unloaded by shouting "cold gun".

Mr Halls had been given the gun by Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the 24-year-old armourer on the film. Lawyers for Ms Gutierrez-Reed have said she did not know where "the live rounds came from".