Alec Baldwin has accused several of Rust’s crew members of negligence in a new lawsuit after he was handed a sharp weapon on set that went off, hitting two people and killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Baldwin was practicing drawing a vintage revolver on the set of Western Rust on October 21, 2021 when he was told the gun was fired “cold,” hitting Hutchins in the chest and director Joel Souza in the collarbone. The actor, who also produced the film, has maintained his innocence in the accident, despite settling a lawsuit filed by Hutchin’s family earlier this year.
Baldwin’s own lawsuit counterclaims after he was sued by screenwriter Mamie Mitchell last year for emotional distress. The actor instead blames several crew members for the accident and accuses them of negligence for handing him a loaded gun. The lawsuit names gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, first assistant director Dave Halls, crew member Sarah Zachry and guns and ammunition supplier Seth Kenney and argues that each person failed to ensure security on the Rust set.
“This tragedy happened because live bullets were delivered to the set and loaded into the gun,” the lawsuit states (per The New York Times). Gutierrez-Reed, Halls, and Zachry are accused of improperly checking the gun and bullets, although Halls declared them safe before handing the gun to Baldwin, and Zachry is responsible for safety as the set’s props master. The lawsuit also accuses Kenney of keeping his guns and ammo “in disarray” and cites photos of “haphazardly” stored ammo. Gutierrez-Reed and Halls have also been criticized for poor gun management; The lawsuit cites an FBI report that details live bullets found throughout the set, including in a bandoleer Baldwin was wearing on the day of the accident.
Gutierrez-Reed and Halls have had troubling safety protocols in the past — so much so that several crew members left the Rust set to protest unsafe working conditions just hours before the tragedy. A Consequence report revealed that Rust was only 24-year-old Gutierrez-Reed’s second appearance as a gunsmith. On her first job, the Nicolas Cage western The Old Way, she made several dangerous rookie mistakes, including firing blanks without notice and unsafely carrying multiple firearms. Halls, on the other hand, was no novice and seemed so comfortable as an assistant director that he often rushed through security briefings, if not skipped altogether.
Baldwin could still be charged for his role in Hutchins’ shooting. The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office submitted its report to prosecutors last month, although its findings were not released to the public.