The husband and son of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was fatally shot on a New Mexico film set in October when a gun wielded by Alec Baldwin discharged a live round, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Tuesday against the actor, film producers and other crew members.
But an attorney for Baldwin quickly issued a reply, saying, “Any claim that Alec was reckless is entirely false.”
Matthew Hutchins, on behalf of himself and son Andros, filed the suit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, claiming the “Rust” production company “breached the most basic rules of firearm use on a film production,” leading to the Oct. 21, 2021, shooting that killed the cinematographer.
At a Los Angeles news conference, Hutchins’ 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 42-year-old Hutchins.
Baldwin has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing on the set, saying he didn’t know how a live round of ammunition made its way onto the set of “Rust.”
His Los Angeles-based attorney, Aaron Dyer, said more of the same Tuesday, issuing a statement just hours after the suit was filed.
“Everyone’s hearts and thoughts remain with Halyna’s family as they continue to process this unspeakable tragedy,” said the statement, as reported by Spectrum News 1 and other outlets.
“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.”
The statement went on to say, “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.”
Hutchins was killed while Baldwin, a producer and star of “Rust,” was helping to prepare camera angles for a scene on the film’s set near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Baldwin, 63, was wielding a gun which was supposed to contain only blank rounds but discharged a lead bullet that struck Hutchins in the chest then lodged in the shoulder of director Joel Souza, 48. Souza survived the shooting.
In an interview with ABC News late last year, Baldwin insisted he “didn’t pull the trigger” of the gun. He previously described the shooting as a tragic accident, and a “one-in-a-trillion episode.”
The film’s production company has also denied allegations that on-set safety was compromised by discord among crew members.
`The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company,” producers said in a statement after the shooting. “Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down.”
Panish, however, released a video that included an animated reenactment of the shooting and highlighted messages and emails among crew members talking about safety issues on the set, including previous accidental discharges of weapons. He stressed that there was no reason for Baldwin to have been wielding a weapon when the shooting occurred, since he was only helping to set up camera angles for a scene.
“Tensions among the crew and staff regarding safety on the `Rust’ set had boiled over” by the time of the shooting, Panish said, alleging that the film’s crew had warned producers that the set was “super unsafe.”
On the morning of Hutchins’ death, “the safety dangers of the production had reached a crisis point,” according to the 29-page suit. “The local camera crew members were so upset by the producers’ utter disregard for … safety that they protested the safety conditions by going on strike.”
The lawsuit alleges that Baldwin and the film’s producers had disregarded at least 15 “industry standards” for gun safety on film sets. The “totality of evidence is just overwhelming,” Panish said.
The attorney said he would seek “substantial” compensation for Matthew Hutchins and his 9-year-old son.
Multiple other lawsuits have already been filed over the shooting, including one in Los Angeles on behalf of a script supervisor who was standing next to Hutchins when she was shot.