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“Rust” cinematographer’s family files suit alleging ‘reckless’ behavior on set

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(NEW YORK) — The family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on Tuesday filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a number of parties including Alec Baldwin and the Rust movie production, attorneys for the family said.

Hutchins died in October after allegedly being shot by a prop gun that Baldwin, also a producer for the film, was holding during rehearsals on the set, according to police. The film’s director, Joel Souza, was also injured in the shooting.

The suit was filed after the attorneys conducted an investigation into what happened, leading them to believe there were numerous violations of industry standards by Baldwin and others who were “charged with safety on the set,” Brian Panish, the attorney for the Hutchins family, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The attorneys allege reckless behavior and cost cutting by Baldwin and others led to Hutchins’ death. Others named in the lawsuit include the armorer, the assistant director, who is alleged to have handed Baldwin the revolver which killed Hutchins, and numerous producers at various levels.

In a statement on Tuesday, the family said Hutchins was “was recklessly shot and killed by Alec Baldwin” on the film set of Rust.

The lawsuit claims that Baldwin fired the revolver after he released its hammer, fatally injuring Hutchins in the side of her chest.

Aaron Dyer, an attorney for Baldwin and other producers on the film, said in a statement Tuesday they are cooperating with authorities regarding the incident.

“Everyone’s hearts and thoughts remain with Halyna’s family as they continue to process this unspeakable tragedy. We continue to cooperate with the authorities to determine how live ammunition arrived on the ‘Rust’ set in the first place,” the statement said.

Lawyers for the Hutchins family argued that live ammunition containing bullets should not have been on set, as per industry standards and the rules of the location where the film was being shot.

The lawsuit claims that the armorer, the first assistant director who handed Baldwin the gun and Baldwin all did not verify the revolver was safe before the line up began. According to the lawsuit, Baldwin did not offer any help to the victims when they were shot.

“Any claim that Alec was reckless is entirely false. He, Halyna and the rest of the crew relied on the statement by the two professionals responsible for checking the gun that it was a ‘cold gun’ — meaning there is no possibility of a discharge, blank or otherwise,” Dyer’s statement said.

“Actors should be able to rely on armorers and prop department professionals, as well as assistant directors, rather than deciding on their own when a gun is safe to use,” the statement added.

An attorney for David Halls, the assistant director, did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

“Many facts contained in the lawsuit filed today are what Hannah has been saying all along,” Jason Bowles, an attorney for Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer, said in a statement to ABC News. “She was expected to do two jobs on set with minimal time and resources. Importantly, no one from production called her into the Church to perform her armorer duties to hand the firearm to Baldwin and conduct a final safety inspection and safety briefing with Baldwin prior to him using the firearm, which resulted in a preventable, tragic shooting.”

“Hannah was qualified. Production simply didn’t follow proper protocol,” Bowles added.

The lawsuit claims that Baldwin recklessly or willfully accepted a weapon from unqualified personnel, used a real revolver for a line up when he could have used a dummy, failed to conduct or observe the inspection of the weapon while it was being loaded, allowed the firing pin of the revolver to hit a bullet which discharged it and pointed the gun at Hutchins and the crew.

According to the lawsuit, Baldwin also “recklessly discharged a deadly weapon,” which it identifies as a criminal offense in New Mexico, where the film was being shot.

The lawsuit also claims that actors and crew were not required to take any basic gun-safety training for the use of the specific revolver they were handling.

The filing alleges that each of the producers and production companies in charge of the film are “responsible for the wrongful conduct of each other for the death of Ms. Hutchins on the Rust Production.”

The lawsuit alleges the defendants had the “power to prevent her death” if they had not been “cutting corners on safety procedures where human lives were at stake, rushing to stay on schedule and ignoring numerous complaints of safety violations.”

According to the court filing, Baldwin, the producers and the film’s production companies did not follow the basic rules of firearm safety on the set.

“Defendant Baldwin and the other Defendants in this case failed to perform industry standard safety checks and follow basic gun safety rules while using real guns to produce the movie Rust, with fatal consequences,” the lawsuit alleges.

As for the accusations of cost cutting, the lawsuit claims that Rust was a low-budget production and some of its cost-cutting methods included “hiring inexperienced and unqualified armorers or weapons masters, requiring the film’s armorer to split time as assistant props master, establishing and aggressively adhering to unreasonably rushed production schedules, and hiring unqualified and inexperienced crew and staff that were responsible for safety during the production.”

According to the lawsuit, Gutierrez-Reed had only one movie production under her belt.

The lawsuit alleges that despite not properly inspecting the revolver that was discharged, she yelled out “cold gun” to the cast and crew, leading them to believe it did not have a live bullet. The lawsuit also states that she did not adequately train and supervise the crew and cast.

Halls allegedly handed Baldwin the gun without being qualified to do so, and said the gun was safe without inspecting it or witnessing it being inspected for any bullets. He did not appropriately respond to complaints from cast and crew regarding misfires, near-misses or weapons safety on set, according to the lawsuit. Halls also allegedly said “cold gun” to cast and crew regarding the revolver which killed Hutchins.

Baldwin and the other producers were aware of this fact and ignored her concerns that being armorer and assistant prop master would “result in lapses in basic firearm safety,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants failed to replace the armorer or require additional safety procedures despite several accidental gun discharges on set and multiple written complaints.

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