'Rust' crew member sues Alec Baldwin, armorer and assistant director over fatal shooting on set

·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·4-min read

The first lawsuit has been filed in the Rust shooting.

While the Santa Fe County Sheriff's department continues its investigation into the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by Alec Baldwin, the film's gaffer Serge Svetnoy filed a complaint of "general negligence" against the actor/producer, armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, assistant director Dave Halls, prop master Sarah Zachry, the production and its financial backers.

Alec Baldwin and others have been sued over the Rust shooting. (Jim Spellman/Getty Images)
Alec Baldwin and others have been sued over the Rust shooting. (Jim Spellman/Getty Images)

“This incident was caused by the negligent acts and omissions of Defendants, and each of them, as well as their agents, principals, and employers,” the complaint, obtained by Deadline, states. “Simply put, there was no reason for a live bullet to be placed in that .45 Colt revolver to be present anywhere on the Rust set, and the presence of a bullet in a revolver posed a lethal threat to everyone in its vicinity."

An aerial photo of a film set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, N.M. (Jae C. Hong/AP)
An aerial photo of a film set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, N.M. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

It continued: "Defendants, and each of them, among other acts of negligence, failed to implement and maintain industry standards for custody and control over firearms used on the Rust set, allowed real bullets to be present ... failed to properly inspect the subject firearm for safety before passing it along the chain of custody to an actor, allowed a firearm to be loaded with or otherwise contain a live bullet, failed to observe basic gun safety practices ... allowed a revolver loaded with live ammunition to be pointed at living persons."

Additionally, the defendants "failed to hire a competent and experienced armorer"  and "failed to hire an adequate support crew for the production’s armorer."

Gutierrez-Reed, 24, who had been an armorer on just one other film, had two jobs simultaneously on the production and was to earn $7,913

The lawsuit also claims that the production "failed to implement appropriate safety standards and measures." It said each defendant "failed to act with reasonable care" and "violated relevant and prevailing industry standards" while making the movie. 

Svetnoy, who seeks a jury trial, previously shared the last photo of Hutchins on the set. He wrote on Facebook that they had worked together on several other projects and he was "standing shoulder-to-shoulder" when the gun Baldwin was rehearsing with discharged.

Svetnoy said he was holding Hutchins, a mom of one, "in my arms while she was dying. Her blood was on my hands."

Svetnoy also blamed Gutierrez-Reed, Halls and others for Hutchins's death and director Joel Souza being injured, saying the shooting was the fault of “the person who was supposed to check the weapon on the site did not do this; the person who had to announce that the loaded gun was on the site did not do this; the person who should have checked this weapon before bringing it to the set did not do it.”

He blamed the indie film's production budget, saying, “To save a dime sometimes, you hire people who are not fully qualified for the complicated and dangerous job, and you risk the lives of the other people who are close and your lives as well."

The Santa Fe County Sheriff's department has since said that there was a live round in the prop gun — and other live rounds on the set — which there never should have been. Only blanks or dummy rounds are normally used.

Investigators are looking into why the real bullet was there and each person who handled the gun prior to Hutchins being shot. According to search warrants, the chain of custody was as follows: prop master Zachry, who removed the gun from a locked prop truck after lunch and gave it to Gutierrez-Reed, who set it up and passed it to Halls, who then gave it to Baldwin, telling him it was "cold," or safe to use, despite not thoroughly inspecting it.

On Wednesday after the lawsuit was announced, Gutierrez-Reed's attorney Jason Bowles released a new statement obtained by Yahoo Entertainment.

It said on Tuesday that they "met with the Santa Fe County Deputy Sheriffs and Hannah continued to cooperate and provided a full interview."

Bowles said, "Information is coming out that needs to be fully investigated and considered by the District Attorney. We eagerly await the FBI’s investigation as well and we are asking for a full and complete investigation of all of the facts, including the live rounds themselves, how they ended up in the 'dummies' box, and who put them in there. We are convinced that this was sabotage and Hannah is being framed. We believe that the scene was tampered with as well before the police arrived."

It ended by saying that on Wednesday morning, "We offered to share additional, critical information with the Sheriff’s Office and are awaiting their response."

Hutchins's husband, Matt Hutchins, has also retained legal counsel over the fatal shooting and reportedly plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

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