The crew of Rust “wilfully violated” safety rules on the sets and “demonstrated plain indifference to employee safety,” which then led to the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins due to a prop gun misfire in October 2021, as per a new safety bureau report released on Wednesday.
The report was released by New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health & Safety Bureau.
It further stated that the management team was aware that gun safety procedures were not being followed on the film’s sets and had failed to rectify it.
The bureau also fined Rust Movie Productions LLC nearly $137,000, the maximum amount allowed as per New Mexico laws, and issued the highest-level citation for their actions.
Hutchins died on October 21, 2021, after a prop gun misfired when actor Alec Baldwin was rehearsing with the firearm on the sets of Rust in Bonanza Creek, New Mexico. The incident also left director Joel Souza injured.
Since then, Baldwin, assistant director Dave Halls and armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed have been under investigation by the authorities. Multiple lawsuits have also been filed against Baldwin and the other producers for negligence and unlawful conduct.
After the release of the new report, James Kenney, the Environment Cabinet Secretary, said in an interview with CNN that the list of violations unearthed “goes on and on and on.”
He also said, “Our investigation found that this tragic incident would have never happened, if Rust Movie Productions LLC had followed national film industry standards for firearm safety. This is a complete failure of the employer to follow recognised national protocols that keep employees safe.”
Kenney also mentioned that the producers of Rust had claimed that they would implement safety regulations, but had “never put the resources or integrity behind it in order to have it actually keep people safe.”
The state’s environment chief also noted that with the film’s armourer was reportedly tasked with other unrelated duties, which could have potentially contributed to the fatal shooting incident on the set.
“When individuals in any occupation, but specifically, the set armourer, are given multiple duties as opposed to having separate duties with multiple people, that leaves the opportunity that people can’t get to everything in the course of their day,” he said. “Safety is not something that should ever be put on the back burner. Safety should be an inherent job characteristic that every employer invests in, to keep their employees safe,” he added.