After months of investigating, a New Mexico government agency has decided that it cannot simply let the production company filming the Alec Baldwin film “Rust” off without some sort of disciplinary action after the actor shot and killed a cinematographer on the set.
“The company that produced the ill-fated Rust movie has been slapped with a fine of $136,793 by the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau for its ‘willful and serious’ violation of workplace safety procedures. The fine, which is the maximum allowable, follows the Bureau’s six-month investigation into the circumstances leading up to the accidental shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza on October 21,” entertainment outlet Deadline reported.
New Mexico Environmental Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said in a video posted by his agency, “There were serious management failures and more than sufficient evidence to suggest that if standard industry practices were followed, the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutching and the serious injury to Joel Souza would not have occurred. … This is a complete failure of the employer to follow recognized national protocols that keep employees safe.”
The report continued:
The production company was issued a “Willful-Serious citation” that includes a $136,793 civil penalty. “This is the highest level of citation and maximum fine allowable by state law in New Mexico,” the Bureau said in a statement. “Rust Movie Productions LLC was cited for the plain indifference to the recognized hazards associated with the use of firearms on set that resulted in a fatality, severe injury, and unsafe working conditions.”
“While the film industry has clear national guidelines for firearms safety, Rust Movie Productions, LLC failed to follow these guidelines or take other effective measures to protect workers,” the statement from the state agency added.
“Rust Movie Productions, LLC’s documents indicate that it would follow the Industry Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee’s Safety Bulletin #1, ‘Recommendations for Safety With Firearms and Use of Blank Ammunition,’ but failed to adhere to these guidelines on set,” it said.
“The guidelines require live ammunition ‘never to be used nor brought onto any studio lot or stage,’ that safety meetings take place every day when firearms are being handled, and that employees ‘refrain from pointing a firearm at anyone’ except after consultation with the Property Master, Armorer or other safety representative, such as the First Assistant Director. By failing to follow these practices, an avoidable loss of life occurred,” the agency concluded.
Since the incident, Baldwin has made a series of bizarre statements regarding what happened, even at one point appearing to try to claim that he wasn’t actually the one who shot Hutchins.
But a script supervisor for the film, Mamie Mitchell — who called 9-1-1 following the Oct. 21 incident — said she believes that Baldwin intentionally fired at the pair.
“I saw Alec going through his movement with the gun for the camera,” she explained in an interview published in late January.
“I was holding my script in my left hand and had taken out my iPhone and opened up my photos to check the continuity on his shirt and vest.,” the script supervisor said. “Then an explosion. Deafening loud gunshot.”
“I was stunned. I heard someone moaning and I turned around and my director was falling backwards and holding his upper body and I turned around toward Alec and saw Halyna going down to the left of me,” she said.
“Alec Baldwin intentionally, without just cause or excuse, cocked and fired a loaded gun even though the upcoming scene to be filmed did not call for the cocking and firing of a firearm,” she said.
Since the incident, Baldwin has been sued by Hutchins’ family. Also, according to Deadline, the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department and the local D.A. are continuing their probe into possible criminal charges.