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Actor Alec Baldwin is claiming to have been “exonerated” of any wrongdoing in the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of his movie “Rust.”
The New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau in a new report said that gross negligence happened on the set, and fined the company the maximum penalty of $136,793, Variety reported.
Somehow the actor believes that this report has exonerated him.
“We are grateful to the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau for investigating this matter. We appreciate that the report exonerates Mr. Baldwin by making clear that he believed the gun held only dummy rounds. Additionally, the report recognizes that Mr. Baldwin’s authority on the production was limited to approving script changes and creative casting. Mr. Baldwin had no authority over the matters that were the subject of the Bureau’s findings of violations, and we are pleased that the New Mexico officials have clarified these critical issues. We are confident that the individuals identified in the report will be held accountable for this tragedy,” the actor’s attorney said.
But does the report actually exonerate him?
“There were serious management failures,” James Kenney, the state Environmental Cabinet Secretary said, Deadline reported. “And more than sufficient evidence to suggest that if standard industry practices were followed, the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutching and the serious injury to Joel Souza would not have occurred. … This is a complete failure of the employer to follow recognized national protocols that keep employees safe.”…
…“While the film industry has clear national guidelines for firearms safety, Rust Movie Productions, LLC failed to follow these guidelines or take other effective measures to protect workers. Rust Movie Productions, LLC’s documents indicate that it would follow the Industry Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee’s Safety Bulletin #1, ‘Recommendations for Safety With Firearms and Use of Blank Ammunition,’ but failed to adhere to these guidelines on set. The guidelines require live ammunition ‘never to be used nor brought onto any studio lot or stage,’ that safety meetings take place every day when firearms are being handled, and that employees ‘refrain from pointing a firearm at anyone’ except after consultation with the Property Master, Armorer or other safety representative, such as the First Assistant Director. By failing to follow these practices, an avoidable loss of life occurred.”
The attorney for “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed said on Wednesday that “OSHA found that Hannah Gutierrez Reed was not provided adequate time or resources to conduct her job effectively, despite her voiced concerns. Critically, OSHA also determined that production failed to call Hannah in to perform her armorer duties and inspect the firearm right before its use in the impromptu scene with Baldwin.”
Baldwin, among others, is still facing a wrongful death lawsuit by the Hutchins family, CNN reported.
Hutchins was fatally shot last October during a rehearsal for a scene for the film, which was being shot near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Director Joel Souza was also injured in the shooting which occurred when Baldwin practiced a draw with a revolver and fired the weapon.
The lawsuit, filed in Santa Fe, alleges numerous industry standard violations by Baldwin and others charged with safety on the set, attorney Brian Panish announced in a news conference Tuesday.
The lawsuit claims the production companies and producers “cut corners” and “chose to hire the cheapest crew available,” specifically noting that they “knowingly hired a wholly unqualified armorer,” and required her to split time in a second role as assistant props master.
“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 attorney for Baldwin, and other producers of the movie, said. “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.”
Others named in the lawsuit include Hannah Gutierrez Reed, prop master Sarah Zachry and assistant director Dave Halls, who handed the gun to Baldwin. His attorney argued that he was not responsible for checking the safety of the gun.
“There are regulations and guidelines in place today that should prevent something like this from happening, but they need to be enforced,” the family’s attorney said. “Had they been followed, this never would have happened.”