Family of woman killed on 'Rust' set sues Alec Baldwin

16 Feb 2022 04:19pm
US actor Alec Baldwin has been sued by the family of a woman shot on the set of the movie "Rust", claiming "substantial" damages for her wrongful death. - AFP
US actor Alec Baldwin has been sued by the family of a woman shot on the set of the movie "Rust", claiming "substantial" damages for her wrongful death. - AFP

LOS ANGELES - The family of a woman shot by Alec Baldwin on the set of the movie "Rust" sued the US actor on Tuesday, claiming "substantial" damages for her wrongful death.

Baldwin was holding a Colt gun during a rehearsal for the low-budget Western in New Mexico in October when it discharged a live round, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

At a press conference Tuesday, lawyer Brian Panish alleged the "reckless conduct and cost-cutting measures" of Baldwin and the other "Rust" producers had led to Hutchins' death.

The attorney representing Hutchins' husband Matthew and son Andros also presented a list of "at least 15 industry standards" he said the producers had ignored on set.

These included failure to use a prop gun rather than a live weapon, a lack of individuals qualified to handle weapons on set at the time of the shooting, and lack of protective equipment for crew.

Panish also alleged that Baldwin had "refused" training on cross-drawing the gun. He presented a 3D animated reconstruction of the shooting.

The lawsuit has been filed in New Mexico, where the incident took place.

Asked what level of compensation the family would seek, Panish said: "We believe it is going to be substantial." "Halyna Hutchins deserved to live, and the defendants had the power to prevent her death," said the lawsuit.

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The document alleges that producers instead opted for "cutting corners on safety procedures where human lives were at stake, rushing to stay on schedule and ignoring numerous complaints of safety violations." Baldwin's lawyer did not immediately respond to AFP request for comment.

- 'A lie' -

The family's lawsuit is the latest in a flurry of civil proceedings over the fatal shooting, which has sent shockwaves through Hollywood, and led to calls for guns to be permanently banned from sets.

In November, the movie's chief lighting technician Serge Svetnoy sued Baldwin for negligence, and script supervisor Mamie Mitchell in a separate lawsuit accused Baldwin of playing "Russian roulette" with safety.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the set's armorer in charge of weapons, last month sued the film's ammunition supplier, accusing him of leaving real bullets among the dummy cartridges.

A criminal investigation is ongoing.

Investigators have not filed criminal charges over the tragedy, but have refused to rule them out against anyone involved, including Baldwin.

Baldwin has handed his cell phone to authorities probing the shooting, after a warrant was issued for the device, and has said claims he was not complying with the investigation are "a lie."

The former "30 Rock" star has said he was told the gun contained no live ammunition, had been instructed by Hutchins to point the gun in her direction, and did not pull the trigger.

In his first major interview since the shooting, Baldwin told ABC in December that he does not feel guilty for Hutchins' death.

"I feel that someone is responsible for what happened and I can't say who that is. But I know it's not me," said Baldwin.

"I mean, I honest to God, if I felt that I was responsible, I might have killed myself," he said. -AFP