It’s been more than a year since actor Alec Baldwin fired a gun on the set of the movie Rust and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Since then, there have been multiple investigations and lawsuits.
What’s the status of each case, and what does it mean for the shooter?
October 21, 2021, was a fairly normal day on the set of the movie Rust. The crew was filming on location in Santa Fe, New Mexico and preparing for a scene which featured a close-up of Baldwin drawing a .45 revolver from a shoulder holster. According to reports, the movie’s first assistant director, Dave Halls, called out “cold gun” and handed the revolver to Baldwin, who is a star of the movie and also one of its producers.
Baldwin moved to practice the cross-draw motion, and the gun went off.
It discharged live ammunition that hit Halyna Hutchins, the movie’s cinematographer, and Joel Souza, the movie’s director. Hutchins died from her injuries.
The Script Supervisor’s Civil Lawsuit
In November 2021, the first legal action over the shooting took place. The movie’s script supervisor, Mamie Mitchell filed a civil lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the producers of the film, including Mr. Baldwin, and several members of its crew.
The lawsuit claims assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and deliberate infliction of harm, and requested unspecified damages. As reported by the New York Times, the lawsuit said, “Alec Baldwin intentionally, without just cause or excuse, cocked and fired the loaded gun even though the upcoming scene to be filmed did not call for the cocking and firing of a firearm.”
The case is weaving its way through the court system (more on its status later in this post).
The Hutchins’ Family Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In February 2022, Hutchins’ family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, against Baldwin, the film’s production companies, its producers, and other key members of the crew. It alleged numerous industry-standard violations, according to reports.
In October 2022, the family reached a settlement. While all the details haven’t been released, Halyna Hutchins’s husband Matthew Hutchins shared some of the details of the settlement in a statement.
Matthew Hutchins indicated that the wrongful death case will be dismissed, filming of the movie will resume, and he will now serve as an executive producer, which means he will receive a portion of the film’s profits.
As for assigning blame to Baldwin, Matthew Hutchins said, “I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame.”
Related: How Do You Sue for Wrongful Death?
The Criminal Investigation
In October 2022, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department said it completed its criminal investigation into the shooting. It delivered its investigative report but didn’t publicly disclose whether it had recommended charges be filed.
According to Forbes, it’s now up to New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and her team to decide whether or not to bring charges. It was reported that the New Mexico Board of Finance granted the DA’s office over $300,000 to be used to possibly prosecute up to four people.
At this time, no charges have been filed.
The Baldwin Cross-Complaint
In November 2022, Baldwin filed his own lawsuit related to the shooting. He filed a cross-complaint to the lawsuit filed by script supervisor, Mamie Mitchell.
According to reports, the cross-complaint is against the production’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, assistant director David Halls, prop master Sarah Zachry, armorer assistant Seth Kenney, and the prop weapon and ammunition supply store company Kenney owns.
All four of the individuals included in the cross-complaint were also named as defendants, along with Baldwin, in Mitchell’s lawsuit. Baldwin’s cross-complaint says Baldwin is being seen as the “perpetrator of this tragedy,” and it was filed to “clear” Baldwin’s name.
It outlines what Baldwin’s team believes is the misconduct of others on the set. The lawsuit says, “This tragedy happened because live bullets were delivered to the set and loaded into the gun, Gutierrez Reed failed to check the bullets or the gun carefully, Halls failed to check the gun carefully and yet announced the gun was safe before handing it to Baldwin, and Zachry failed to disclose that Gutierrez Reed had been acting recklessly off set and was a safety risk to those around her.”
Baldwin is suing for damages and asking for indemnification from legal damages that might arise from Mitchell’s case. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in Mitchell’s original lawsuit as well as Baldwin’s cross-complaint.
Have a Trusted Attorney by Your Side
One incident can lead to a variety of lawsuits and investigations. If you are involved in a legal matter, make sure you have an attorney by your side who can handle whatever issues come your way.
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