US NEWS New Mexico levies $136,793 in fines, the max, in...

New Mexico levies $136,793 in fines, the max, in fatal shooting on ‘Rust’ set last fall

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The production company behind the movie “Rust” has been issued the maximum possible fine for firearms safety failures on set, stemming from the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins last October.

Hutchins was killed when a gun in the hands of actor and producer Alec Baldwin fired a live round during filming in New Mexico.

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“We’ve identified willful and serious violations,” said James Kenney, the state’s Environment Department Secretary, told The Associated Press on Wednesday, noting that the $136, 793 fine assessed is the most that they are able to levy.

The Bonanza Creek Ranch, where the film “Rust” was being filmed, is seen in Santa Fe, NM on Oct. 23, 2021. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

Baldwin, a producer as well as the star, was rehearing a scene inside a small church at Bonanza Creek Ranch outside Santa Fe when the gun went off – without his pulling the trigger, he later said – and killed Hutchins, 42, on Oct. 21. She had instructed him to point it at her, he later said.

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The state issued a laundry list of blatant safety failures that violated basic industry safety protocols, The Associated Press reported. From unaddressed misfires on the set before the fatal shooting, to unheeded gun safety complaints from crew members, the report found numerous instances of an apparent cavalier attitude towards firearm safety on set. Moreover, weapons specialists who tried to address it were stopped from making decisions about additional safety training.

“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,” Bob Genoway, bureau chief for occupational safety, told the AP.

Alec Baldwin and Halyna Hutchins.
Alec Baldwin and Halyna Hutchins. (Getty Images)

No fewer than five lawsuits are pending against producers regarding the shooting, which also injured director Joel Souza. Legal action ranges from a wrongful-death suit brought by Hutchins’ family, to lawsuits seeking damages from other parties whose actions allegedly led to the tragic incident.

One of them has been filed by script supervisor Mamie Mitchell, who was there when it happened.

“Everyone responsible for what happened on that production which led to the tragedy should hang their heads in shame,” said her attorney, Gloria Allred, in a statement. “The report by OSHA is a stinging indictment which goes way beyond mere negligence. In issuing its penalty it finds that the violations were willful. There are no stronger words which New Mexico OSHA could have used to describe the production company’s failures.”

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“It’s a tragedy,” Kenney concluded. “It’s a real loss of folks who should be here with us still.”

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