Death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins the result of ‘a serious and deliberate’ failure, says official report

New Mexico Environment Department investigation says accidental shooting by Alec Baldwin on ‘Rust’ film set an indication of ‘total disregard’ for employee safety

Actor Alec Baldwin.Photo: Jim Weber (AP)

The New Mexico Environment department this week released its report into the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during the filming of Rust, saying that the movie’s production company, Rust Movie Productions, showed “total disregard for employees.”

Hutchins was accidentally shot on set last October by actor Alec Baldwin, who was the film’s star and producer, with a prop gun that was supposed to have been loaded with blanks. Director Joel Souza was injured in the same incident. Production of the independent film was suspended following the incident.

According to the report, Rust Movie Productions showed “total disregard for the dangers associated with the use of firearms.” The department has ordered the company to pay a fine of $136,793 (about €125,000).

The report further notes that security lapses were “serious and deliberate,” and that there were “several management failures.”

Further, “there is more than enough evidence to suggest that if standard industry practices had been followed, the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins and the serious injury to Joel Souza would not have occurred,”

The report thus argues that the security lapses were “serious and deliberate.” “There were several management failures and there is more than enough evidence to suggest that if standard industry practices had been followed, the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins and the serious injury to Joel Sousa would not have occurred,” said New Mexico Environment Department cabinet secretary James Kenney in a press release.

Baldwin’s lawyer Luke Niklas argued last March that his client was only responsible for creative and artistic issues on the production, while other staff were empowered with matters like budgets and recruitment, including hiring the armory manager and first assistant director, who were ultimately responsible for the handling of the gun that went off.

Nikas has told media that the New Mexico Environment department report exonerates Baldwin from any wrongdoing.

Still, Halyna Hutchins’ husband, Matthew Hutchins, is continuing with a lawsuit he filed in February, forcing the actor to face various negligence allegations in court along with David Halls, the first assistant director, and Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the armory manager.

The day after Hutchins’ death, 62-year-old Baldwin tweeted: “There are no words to convey my shock and sadness at the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother, and deeply admired colleague of ours. I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred.”

“My heart is broken for her husband, her son and all who knew and loved Halyna.”

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