It has been five months since the fatal shooting on the set of the western film “Rust” in which actor/producer Alec Baldwin was holding the gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. While authorities have yet to file any charges, New Mexico safety regulators have levied the maximum fine on the film production company.
Citing fire arms safety failures, the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau levied the maximum fine of $136,793 against the “Rust” film production company.
Bureau chief for occupational safety Bob Genoway spoke to the Associated Press saying, “what we had, based on our investigators’ findings, was a set of obvious hazards to employees regarding the use of firearms and management’s failure to act upon those obvious hazards.”
The Safety Bureau cited “safety failures in violation of standard industry protocols, including testimony that production managers took limited or no action to address two misfires on set prior to the fatal shooting. The bureau also documented gun safety complaints from crew members that went unheeded and said weapons specialists were not allowed to make decisions about additional safety training.”
Last October, Baldwin and the film crew were filming the western “Rust” when on October 21, Baldwin was given a large caliber revolver by assistant director David Hall without checking with the film’s firearms specialist or checking to determine whether or not the gun was loaded. During the set up shot, Baldwin aimed the gun at Halyna Hutchins per her instructions when the gun discharged killing Hutchins and wounding film director Joel Souza.
Baldwin later stated that he never pulled the trigger; the gun went off on its own.
The shooting was not the first on set incident reported. Previously there were two “accidental discharges” of a rifle. Safety regulators noted that after the two incidents no ”investigative, corrective or disciplinary action” was taken. Investigators also noted that production staff failed to ensure live rounds were not permitted on the film set; which is a violation of industry safety protocols.
Rust Movie Productions Stefan Friedman issued a statement saying, “while we appreciate OSHA’s time and effort in its investigation, we disagree with its findings and plan to appeal.” Any appeal will he heard by the New Mexico health and safety commission.
Throughout the investigation, Alec Baldwin has vehemently proclaimed his innocence. Via a statement, his attorney proclaimed the OSHA findings “exonerates Mr. Baldwin.”
Attorney for the film’s fire arms expert Hannah Gutierrez Reed noted his client was “was not provided adequate time or resources to conduct her job effectively.”
Reportedly, “Rust” had a film budget of just $7 million; $250,000 of which went to Baldwin as one of the actors and a producer.
To date five law suits have been filed against Baldwin and the production company including a wrongful death suit by the Hutchins’ family. Widower Matt Hutchins cited “a callous disregard in the face of safety complaints on the set.”
Investigations into whether criminal charges will be filed are ongoing.
feature photo credit: Alec Baldwin (27914160123).jpg