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Alec Baldwin, others reach settlement with Halyna Hutchins’s family in ‘Rust’ lawsuit

Oct. 5, 2022 Updated Wed., Oct. 5, 2022 at 8:06 p.m.

Photos of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins are displayed before a vigil held to honor her in October 2021 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  (Sam Wasson/Getty Images/TNS)
Photos of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins are displayed before a vigil held to honor her in October 2021 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Sam Wasson/Getty Images/TNS)
By Travis M. Andrews Washington Post

The family of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer fatally shot in October 2021 on the “Rust” film set when a gun held by Alec Baldwin discharged a live round, reached a settlement with the actor, the film’s production companies and several members of the crew in a wrongful death civil suit, according to Rust Movie Productions.

While blocking a scene on the New Mexico set in October 2021, the prop revolver Baldwin was holding fired, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza. It is unclear why a live bullet was in the gun.

Details of the settlement remain confidential by court order. According to the statement, filming will resume in January with Matthew Hutchins, the late cinematographer’s husband, executive producing.

“I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin),” Hutchins said in a statement. “All of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident. I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna’s final work.”

Souza said in a statement that his “every effort” on the film “will be devoted to honoring Halyna’s legacy and making it proud,” and described finishing the film as “a privilege.”

“Those of us who were lucky enough to have spent time with Halyna knew her to be exceedingly talented, kind, creative, and a source of incredible positive energy. I only wish the world had gotten to know her under different circumstances, as it surely would have through her amazing work,” Souza said. “In my own attempts to heal, any decision to return to finish directing the film could only make sense for me if it was done with the involvement of Matt and the Hutchins family.”

In February, Hutchins filed the civil suit on behalf of himself and his son, Andros Hutchins, against the film’s production companies, several members of the crew and Baldwin himself. They sought compensatory and punitive damages.

The suit argued that Baldwin “recklessly shot and killed” Hutchins, that the defendants “failed to perform industry standard safety checks and follow basic gun safety rules,” and that the production “[cut] corners on safety producers where human lives were at stake, rushing to stay on schedule and [ignored] numerous complaints of safety violations.”

In April, a report by the New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau found the film’s crew violated safety rules and “demonstrated plain indifference to employee safety,” and Rust Movie Productions, LLC was fined nearly $137,000, the maximum amount allowed by New Mexico law.

“Our investigation found that this tragic incident never would have happened if Rust Movie Productions, LLC had followed national film industry standards for firearm safety,” James Kenney, New Mexico’s environment cabinet secretary, told CNN at the time. “This is a complete failure of the employer to follow recognized national protocols that keep employees safe.”The settlement for the civil lawsuit, which is pending court approval, was one of several filed in the aftermath of the shooting. At the Boulder International Film Festival in March, Baldwin suggested the suits were motivated by money, though he didn’t specify which suits he meant. “What you have is a certain group of people, litigants and whatever, on whatever side, who their attitude is, ‘well the people who likely seem negligent have no money and the people who have money are not negligent,’” he said, according to CNN.

Baldwin, in particular, has taken to national media to repeatedly insist that he was not at fault for Hutchins’s death. Two months after the incident, he appeared on ABC News to say that though he cocked the gun, “The trigger wasn’t pulled. I didn’t pull the trigger.” The actor and producer said he felt “that someone is responsible for what happened, and I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me.”

“I would never point a gun at anyone and then pull the trigger, never,” he said, adding, “Someone put a live bullet in the gun, a bullet that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property.”

In August, FBI forensic reports were released suggesting the revolver would not have discharged without its trigger being pulled while the gun was cocked.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office investigation into the matter remains open.

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