Attorneys for the family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins announced the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday morning in her shooting death on the movie set of 'Rust.'
At a Tuesday morning news conference in Los Angeles, attorneys said the lawsuit was filed by husband Matthew Hutchins, on behalf of himself and son Andros, in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. 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.
Actor Alec Baldwin has said he didn’t know the gun he was holding at the time of the shooting contained a live round when it went off while pointed at Hutchins. The film's production company has also denied allegations that on-set safety was compromised by discord among crew members.
Aaron Dyer, an attorney for Alec Baldwin and other producers of ‘Rust,' released the following statement after Tuesday's announcement.
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“Everyone’s hearts and thoughts remain with Halyna’s family as they continue to process this unspeakable tragedy," Dyer said. "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. 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. 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.”
During the news conference, attorneys played an animation that they said re-created the events that led to the shooting of Hutchins, 42, last year on the New Mexico movie set.
Attorney Brian Panish said there were "numerous violations of industry standards that occurred by Mr. Baldwin and others that were charged with safety on the set.'' He said producers' "reckless conduct and cost-cutting measures'' directly led to the death of Hutchins.
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The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office that is leading an investigation into the cause of the death. No charges have been filed in connection with the shooting.
Authorities have pieced together a timeline of events that led up to the shooting.
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.
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, each filed a lawsuit over the trauma they went through.
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 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 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."