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Alec Baldwin: Rust film issued maximum fine

The producers of a film whose cinematographer was accidentally shot dead on set by Alec Baldwin have been fined and strongly criticised by authorities for failing to follow safety guidelines.

The makers of Rust showed “plain indifference to recognised hazards associated with use of firearms on set”, according to the New Mexico Environment Department.

The agency has issued the maximum $136,793 (£105,000) fine to Rust Movie Productions.

Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza injured in October as Baldwin rehearsed with what he believed to be a safe gun.

Alec Baldwin after the incident in October 2021
Image caption,Alec Baldwin has said he said he did not pull the trigger but the revolver fired after he cocked it

The actor, who was also a producer on the film, has previously said he did not pull the trigger and has no idea how a live bullet came to be on the set near Santa Fe.

The report said Rust Movie Productions’ management “knew that firearm safety procedures were not being followed on set and demonstrated plain indifference to employee safety by failing to review work practices and take corrective action”.

The company said it disagreed with the findings and would appeal.

‘Serious and wilful’ failures

New Mexico Environment Department cabinet secretary James Kenney said: “There were several management failures and more than sufficient evidence to suggest that if standard industry practices were followed, the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins and the serious injury to Joel Sousa would not have occurred.

“Through our investigation, we determined that Rust Productions’ failures were both serious and wilful.”

He added: “The bottom line here is that it was the employers’ obligation to follow national standards, and that did not happen on the set of Rust.

“While this concludes our OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] investigation into this matter, I understand law enforcement is continuing its criminal investigation.

“This was a terrible tragedy and our thoughts are with the victim – a mother, a wife, an experienced cinematographer and a well respected member of the film community. Today we continue to extend our thoughts and prayers to her loved ones.

“While I realise no fine can compensate for the loss of life, we are holding Rust Productions fully accountable.”

An aerial view of the film set on Bonanza Creek Ranch
Image caption,The tragedy occurred at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe

In a statement to the Reuters news agency, Rust Movie Productions spokesman Stefan Friedman said: “While we appreciate OSHA’s time and effort in its investigation, we disagree with its findings and plan to appeal. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Halyna’s family.”

Baldwin has previously said a live bullet “wasn’t even supposed to be on the property”, and that the replica Colt .45 revolver fired after he cocked it during rehearsals.

“I’m holding the gun where she told me to hold it, which ended up being aimed right below her armpit,” he explained to ABC News in December.

For the scene, the actor said he needed to cock the gun – but not fire it. “The trigger wasn’t pulled. I didn’t pull the trigger,” he said.

“I cock the gun. I go, ‘Can you see that? Can you see that? Can you see that?’ And then I let go of the hammer of the gun, and the gun goes off.”

According to court records, Mr Baldwin had been handed the weapon by the film’s assistant director, Dave Halls, who did not know it contained live ammunition and indicated it was unloaded by shouting “cold gun”.

Mr Halls had been given the gun by Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the 24-year-old armorer on the film. Lawyers for Ms Gutierrez-Reed have said she did not know where “the live rounds came from”.

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