‘Rust’ script supervisor sues Alec Baldwin and producers
The script supervisor on “Rust,” who was the first to call 911 after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot on the movie’s set, sued actor Alec Baldwin and the film’s producers for assault, saying they intentionally ignored safety protocols that would have prevented the tragedy.
Mamie Mitchell, who was standing close to Hutchins when a bullet from Baldwin’s gun struck her, is the latest member of the “Rust” crew to take legal action against the film’s production company, Rust Movie Productions LLC, for the Oct. 21 tragedy in New Mexico.
The allegations in the suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, include assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and deliberate infliction of harm.
“Every safety protocol designed to ensure that firearms would be safely used were ignored, and actions that were taken were against all industry norms,” Mitchell’s lawyers alleged in the complaint. The suit said Baldwin “intentionally, without cause or excuse, cocked and fired the loaded gun even though the upcoming scene to be filmed did not called for the cocking and firing of a firearm.”
Mitchell is represented by attorney Gloria Allred.
The new legal action comes after Serge Svetnoy, the chief lighting technician on “Rust,” earlier this month filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles that alleged negligence on the part of the film’s producers — including Baldwin — in Hutchins’ death. Svetnoy, who was the chief electrician or gaffer, held Hutchins in his arms as she lay dying on the movie set.
Matthew Hutchins, husband of the late “Rust” cinematographer, has enlisted the law firm of Panish Shea Boyle Ravipudi.
Santa Fe County Sheriff’s detectives are still investigating key details of the shooting, including how live ammunition got onto the movie set — a major violation of film production safety protocols — and how at least one lead bullet got into the revolver used by Baldwin. No criminal charges have been filed.
Deputies seized more than 500 rounds of ammunition from the set of “Rust,” a low-budget period film set in 1880s Kansas. Additional rounds were found inside the revolver that Baldwin fired, Sheriff Adan Mendoza said last month.
Mitchell’s suit said that Baldwin should have checked the gun that was handed to him to make sure that it was safe to use, even after the assistant director, Dave Halls, allegedly handed him the weapon and declared it a “cold gun,” meaning it was safe.
“Baldwin should have assumed that the gun in question was loaded unless or until it was demonstrated to him or checked by him that it was not loaded,” the complaint said. “Mr. Baldwin cannot hide behind the assistant director to attempt to excuse that fact that he did not check the gun himself.”
The suit names as defendants the production company Rust Movie Productions LLC, as well as multiple individual producers of the film and other production companies, including Thomasville Pictures and 3rd Shift Media. Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the armorer on ‘Rust’ who was in charge of weaponry, and Halls were also named as defendants.
“[Baldwin’s] behavior and that of the producers on ‘Rust’ were intentional acts and/or omissions, without any just cause or excuse and with utter disregard of the consequences of said acts and/or omissions,” the suit said.
Representatives for the production companies and Baldwin did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Attorneys for Gutierrez Reed have suggested foul play and that the set was sabotaged.
“We are convinced that this was sabotage and Hannah is being framed,” Gutierrez Reed’s attorney Jason Bowles said in a statement last week, reiterating a previous allegation. “We believe that the scene was tampered with as well before the police arrived.”
Gutierrez Reed’s lawyers had previously issued a statement that said safety was their client’s No. 1 priority on set, and that she had no idea where the live rounds came from.
“Hannah was hired for two positions on this film, which made it extremely difficult to focus on her job as an armorer,” they added. “She fought for training, days to maintain weapons and proper time to prepare for gunfire but ultimately was overruled by production and her department.”
Hutchins died and director Joel Souza was injured as Baldwin rehearsed an upcoming scene — a shootout in the weathered wooden church on the edge of the old Western town — at the Bonanza Creek Ranch movie set, 13 miles south of Santa Fe. The shooting occurred 12 days into a 21-day production schedule.
According to audio from a 911 call obtained by The Times, Mitchell expressed frustration that an assistant director, presumably Dave Halls, yelled at her at lunch and asked about revisions. Mitchell told the 911 operator that she could not say whether the gun was loaded with a real bullet.
“He’s supposed to check the guns,” Mitchell said on the 911 call. “He’s responsible for what happens on the set.”
Mitchell, according to her lawsuit, was standing less than four feet from Hutchins at the time the cinematographer was shot.
The Times has previously reported that there were two accidental weapon discharges on Oct. 16 — just days before the fatal shooting.
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