Alec Baldwin has sued the armorer and several other crew members involved in the “Rust” production for negligence over a year after a gun he was holding discharged, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza on a Western film set in New Mexico. In the lawsuit, Baldwin alleges that he was not responsible for the set’s safety, and he did not know there were live rounds in the gun.
The suit, filed Friday, alleges that armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed “failed to check the bullets or the gun carefully;” assistant director David Halls “failed to check the gun carefully and yet announced the gun was safe before handing it to Baldwin;” and prop master Sarah Zachry “failed to disclose that Gutierrez-Reed had been acting recklessly off set and was a safety risk to those around her.”
Furthermore, Baldwin, who was also one of the film’s six producers, “did not know and had no reason to know any of these facts,” the suit reads.
The shooting occurred on Oct. 21, 2021, inside a church building on a film set outside Santa Fe. Baldwin was sitting on a wooden pew, rehearsing unholstering his prop gun and pointing it at the camera, when he fired it, according to a search warrant filed by Santa Fe County Sheriff’s investigators.
The lawsuit alleges that Baldwin “pulled back and then released the hammer” and the gun fired, striking 42-year-old Hutchins and 48-year-old Souza. Hutchins was hit in the chest and Souza in the shoulder.
Baldwin has repeatedly said it was an accident, insisting he did not pull the trigger. But an FBI forensic report found the weapon could not not have fired unless the trigger was pulled, according to the Associated Press. New Mexico’s Office of the Medical Investigator determined Hutchins’ death to be accidental.
In the days after the shooting, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza confirmed the loaded firearm was “handled and/or inspected” by Gutierrez-Reed and Halls prior to it being fired by Baldwin.
The lawsuit says that Gutierrez-Reed expressly told Baldwin not to check the guns on set — that it was her job to do so. However, the lawsuit alleges, she did not properly inspect the gun before handing it to Baldwin. It also claims that she was disorganized, leaving ammunition scattered across the set, and failed to secure weapons.
Halls, for his part, according to the lawsuit, either failed to check the gun or failed to report his concern about a round in the gun that, he allegedly told a witness, looked different than the others. Instead, he told Baldwin the gun was “cold,” or safe to use.
Also included as a defendent in the lawsuit is Seth Kenney and his company, PDQ, which supplied most of the weapons and ammunition on set.
The lawsuit includes photos of a disorganized space, where the weapons and ammunition used on the “Rust” set were allegedly kept. It also said that investigators found multiple live rounds of ammunition on the “Rust” set, and that the FBI located live rounds intermixed with blanks during a search of PDQ.
“As a prop supplier, Kenney and PDQ (located at 126 Monroe Street) should not have stored live ammunition on the same disorganized premises, let alone co-mingled it,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also presented emails sent between Baldwin and others in which he asks about who is in charge of the guns on the set and requests gun training ahead of filming. According to the lawsuit, the emails show that he was not involved in the armorer’s hiring and that he “takes safety seriously and wanted to ensure he received the safety training available on the Rust set.”
The shooting has led to a variety of lawsuits. Last year, “Rust” script supervisor Mamie Mitchell sued Baldwin and the other producers, saying he should have checked the gun himself. Since then, several other suits have been filed, while the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office report on the incident has been handed over to prosecutors for potential charges.
Mendoza described “a degree of neglect” on the film set for “Rust” but is leaving decisions about potential criminal charges to prosecutors.
Last month, Baldwin and Hutchins’ family reached a settlement, and the actor announced filming would resume.
Baldwin’s lawsuit adds that the 67-year-old actor “has been wrongfully viewed as the perpetrator of this tragedy.”
“He has suffered physically and emotionally from the grief caused by these events,” the lawsuit said. “Not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about, and suffer from, the events that happened that day.”