Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins’ lawyers slam Alec Baldwin for saying she told him to shoot

The estate lawyer for the Rust cinematographer who was shot and killed when a gun Alec Baldwin pointed at her on set went off called out the actor for his claims that she told him to point the weapon at her and fire. 

Attorney Brian Panish claimed Baldwin, 63, was trying to minimize the role he played in the October 21 incident that killed Halyna Hutchins as Baldwin appeared to pass the blame onto the victim during an arbitration demand filed on Friday.

Baldwin also claimed that his contract shielded him from any financial responsibility related to Hutchins’ death and that the lawsuit against the actor filed by the victim’s family was what prevented the $7 million movie’s completion.  

Despite the tragedy, Baldwin, had attempted to convince cast and crew to finish filming ‘Rust’ in Hutchins’ honor in the weeks after the shooting and have the proceeds from the movie go towards a settlement with the woman’s husband, Matthew Hutchins, and nine-year-old son, according to the filings that also revealed Baldwin had been texting Matthew.  

‘Alec Baldwin once again is trying to avoid liability and accountability for his reckless actions before and on October 21st that resulted in the death of Halyna Hutchins,’ Panish told Deadline.  

‘Baldwin’s disclosure of personal texts with Matt Hutchins is irrelevant to his demand for arbitration and fails to demonstrate anything other than Hutchins’ dignity in his engagement with Baldwin. 

‘It is shameful that Baldwin claims Hutchins’ actions in filing a wrongful death lawsuit derailed the completion of Rust,’ Panish added. ‘The only action that ended the film’s production was Baldwin’s killing of Halyna Hutchins.’

Attorney Brian Panish, who represents the late cinematographer Halyna Hutchins' estate, slammed Alec Baldwin for his claims that Hutchins order him to fire the gun pointed at her on October 21. Baldwin is pictured walking with his family on Friday

Attorney Brian Panish, who represents the late cinematographer Halyna Hutchins’ estate, slammed Alec Baldwin for his claims that Hutchins order him to fire the gun pointed at her on October 21. Baldwin is pictured walking with his family on Friday 

On Friday, Baldwin claimed he was protected from financial liability from the shooting. Later in the day, he went on a stroll with wife Hilaria (left) and two of their kids

On Friday, Baldwin claimed he was protected from financial liability from the shooting. Later in the day, he went on a stroll with wife Hilaria (left) and two of their kids 

Alec Baldwin and Halyna Hutchins (center), along with other cast, are pictured on the Rust set. Baldwin had wanted to keep filming the movie following the fatal shooting

Alec Baldwin and Halyna Hutchins (center), along with other cast, are pictured on the Rust set. Baldwin had wanted to keep filming the movie following the fatal shooting

According to documents filed in court on Friday, Baldwin ultimately blamed the fact that Rust went unfinished on the lawsuit filed against him by Hutchins' family

According to documents filed in court on Friday, Baldwin ultimately blamed the fact that Rust went unfinished on the lawsuit filed against him by Hutchins’ family

Hutchins' estate lawyer said the only one to blame for the film's failed launch was Baldwin

Hutchins’ estate lawyer said the only one to blame for the film’s failed launch was Baldwin

The actor made this allegation in an arbitration demand that his lawyers filed on Friday with the JAMS arbitration system against his fellow producers. The document maintains that the terms of Baldwin’s contract shielded him from carrying any financial responsibility related to Hutchins’ death, or paying legal fees.  

Baldwin has been named as a defendant in multiple lawsuits that have been filed in connection with the fatal shooting.  

Baldwin, who was also a producer on Rust, was pointing the vintage Colt at Hutchins inside a small church during the setup for the filming of a scene for the Western in New Mexico on October 21 when it went off, killing Hutchins and wounding the director, Joel Souza. 

‘This is a rare instance when the system broke down, and someone should be held legally culpable for the tragic consequences. That person is not Alec Baldwin,” according to the filing. ‘October 21 was also the worst day in Alec Baldwin’s life. That day has and will continue to haunt Baldwin.’ 

Friday’s filing repeatedly argued that the actor was not responsible for the cinematographer’s death because he had been assured that the gun he was using in the scene did not contain live bullets, and also because he was not responsible for checking the ammunition, as New York Times first reported. 

‘An actor cannot rule that a gun is safe,’ the filing said. ‘That is the responsibility of other people on the set.’

Baldwin was paid $250,000 to star in and produce the low-budget western, but he gave $100,000 of that sum back as an investment in the film. His lawyers maintained that as a producer, he was involved only in creative decisions, but was not responsible for hiring staff or gun safety on set.   

Alec Baldwin's attorneys stated in a new court filing that the actor was following Rust cinematographer's directions when he pointed a gun at her and pulled the trigger, killing her

Alec Baldwin’s attorneys stated in a new court filing that the actor was following Rust cinematographer’s directions when he pointed a gun at her and pulled the trigger, killing her 

The actor said he said he remains 'hopeful when the facts come out we will not be held criminally responsible' for the shooting that killed 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins (pictured)

The actor said he said he remains ‘hopeful when the facts come out we will not be held criminally responsible’ for the shooting that killed 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins (pictured)

Lawsuits filed against Alec Baldwin and Rust production members

The Hutchins Family:

Matthew Hutchins, husband of late cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Alec Baldwin and about two dozen other defendants – including armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and assistant director David Halls –  in February, claiming they disregarded standard industry practices meant to keep movie sets safe.

The complaint alleges ‘reckless behavior and cost cutting led to the senseless and tragic death of Halyna Hutchins’.

Script Supervisor Mamie Mitchell: 

Mamie Mitchell filed a lawsuit against Baldwin in November 2021 arguing he should have checked the Colt .45 revolver he was holding to make sure it did not include live ammunition. 

Mitchell, who said she was in the line of fire during the shooting, alleges assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and deliberate infliction of harm and is seeking unspecified damages.

Chief Electrician Serge Svetnoy:

Serge Svetnoy also filed a suit against the actor, Gutierrez-Reed and Halls in November 2021 alleging negligence.

Svetnoy accused the producers and others of failing to implement safety standards and of allowing ‘a revolver loaded with live ammunition to be pointed at living persons on the Rust set.’ 

He alleged there was ‘no reason’ for a live bullet to be placed in the gun or even present on set. 

 Key Medic Cherlyn Schaeffer:

Cherlyn Schaeffer filed a lawsuit against Gutierrez-Reed and Halls in February 2022 claiming their negligence lead to actor Baldwin being handed a gun with a live round. 

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, also included the movie’s production company and others like prop master Sarah Zachry.

Schaeffer alleges the incident caused her so much emotional distress that she cannot work, claiming she’s, ‘medically prevented from returning to the profession or any other job.’

Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed:

 Gutierrez-Reed in January sued the supplier of the ammunition used on the set of the Western film, PDQ Media Arm & Prop owner Seth Kenney, claiming the company led to ‘live rounds to be introduced on the New Mexico movie set’ after selling blank and live rounds packaged together.

Lawyers for the armorer also allege that she was not present when Baldwin had been practicing the cross-draw move, and that no one told her that was going on. 

They claim that had she ‘been called back in, she would have re-inspected the weapon, and every round again, and instructed Baldwin on safe gun practice with the cross-draw, as was her standard practice’. 

The arbitration demand offered a detailed account of what Baldwin said took place during the scene in the church, which called for the actor’s character, Harland Rust, to fire a Colt.

According to the document, Hutchins instructed Baldwin how to hold the gun.

‘She directed Baldwin to hold the gun higher, to a point where it was directed toward her,’ the filing stated. ‘She was looking carefully at the monitor and then at Baldwin, and then back again, as she gave these instructions. In giving and following these instructions, Hutchins and Baldwin shared a core, vital belief: that the gun was ‘cold’ and contained no live rounds.’

Baldwin then asked Hutchins if she wanted him to pull back the hammer on the Colt, and she allegedly said yes.

The actor pulled back the hammer ‘but not far enough to actually cock the gun,’ the filing said.

When Baldwin let go of the hammer, the gun discharged. 

Baldwin’s lawyer wrote that it was not until the actor was shown a photo of the bullet that had gone through Hutchins and Souza’s bodies that he ‘recognized the object as a live bullet.’

‘He was shocked,’ attorney Luke Nikas added.

Hutchins’ husband, Matthew Hutchins, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Baldwin and about two dozen other defendants – including ‘Rust’ armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and assistant director David Halls – last month, claiming they disregarded standard industry practices meant to keep movie sets safe.

These included failure to use a prop gun rather than a live weapon, a lack of individuals qualified to handle weapons on set at the time of the shooting, and lack of protective equipment for crew. 

The complaint alleges ‘reckless behavior and cost cutting led to the senseless and tragic death of Halyna Hutchins’.

Matthew’s attorney, Brian Panish, said his firm has conducted an independent investigation that uncovered ‘numerous violations of industry standards’ by Baldwin and the other defendants named in the complaint.

A 10-minute video created by Matthew’s attorneys showed a 3D animated recreation of the shooting during a rehearsal in a church. It shows a computer-generated avatar representing Baldwin accepting the Colt gun from Halls, pointing it in Hutchins’ direction, and firing.

The animation shows that the bullet in the chamber was live and not a ‘dummy’ with a hole drilled into it. The round strikes Hutchins, who clutches her chest and collapses in the video. 

The lawsuit also states: ‘Halyna Hutchins deserved to live, and the Defendants had the power to prevent her death if they had only held sacrosanct their duty to protect the safety of every individual on a set where firearms were present instead of cutting corners on safety procedures where human lives were at stake, rushing to stay on schedule and ignoring numerous complaints of safety violations.’ 

The attorneys also claimed Baldwin had ‘refused’ training for the kind of gun draw he was doing when he shot Hutchins. The complaint also claims that Baldwin never checked the gun himself for ammunition before using it. 

The suit also included a copy of a text message where a local camera operator made safety complaints to producers that there had been three unsafe weapons discharges and that the set was ‘super unsafe’. The unit production manager responded ‘with callous sarcasm’, according to the lawsuit. He said in response that it was ‘awesome’ and ‘sounds good’.  

In response to the civil suit filed by Hutchins’ family, Baldwin’s lawyer Aaron Dyer said the actor should have been able to rely on the film’s armorer, prop department and assistant directors to ensure the gun was safe to use. 

In Friday’s filing, his lawyer wrote that Gutierrez-Reed had told him that ‘it was her job to check the gun — not his.’ It also disputes that Baldwin had refused to attend ‘cross-draw’ training, saying that he had asked about lessons before arriving on set, and that he had received the necessary training. 

Baldwin is pictured above in a 3D video simulation that shows the moment he fired the shot that killed Hutchins

Baldwin is pictured above in a 3D video simulation that shows the moment he fired the shot that killed Hutchins

Matthew has also publicly shared his frustrations with the actor’s refusal to take responsibility for his role in the shooting.

‘He said essentially he felt grief but no guilt. Almost sounds like he was the victim,’ Matthew said in a TODAY interview last month.

‘The idea that the person holding the gun a/nd causing it to discharge is not responsible is absurd to me.’ 

In the arbitration demand, Baldwin’s lawyer said that in the days and weeks after the shooting, the actor and Matthew Hutchins remained on good terms, and even had breakfast together. On that occasion, the filing claims, the widower hugged Baldwin and told him: ‘I guess we’re going to go through this together.’

The two men continued exchanging text messages over the next few months, but the tone of their communications grew colder after Baldwin did an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, during which he publicly denied responsibility for Halyna’s death.   

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