‘Rust’ production company settles firearm charges with New Mexico safety officials

A worker, who said he came to pick up some equipment, walks toward security guards at the entrance to the Bonanza Creek Ranch film set in Santa Fe, N.M., Monday, Oct. 25, 2021.

Jae C. Hong | AP

Producers of the “Rust” film starring Alec Baldwin announced Friday they will pay a reduced penalty of $100,000 to New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau, settling a civil investigation into the movie-set shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

The final penalty was lowered from an original fine of $136,793 issued last April. The state agency also downgraded the case from the most severe classification, “willful-serious,” to “serious.” The settlement will be finalized 20 days after it is submitted.

“Our top priority has always been resuming production and completing this film so we can honor the life and work of Halyna Hutchins,” said Melina Spadone, an attorney representing the “Rust” production company, in a statement. “Settling this case rather than litigating is how we can best move forward to achieve that goal.”

The producers are planning to continue filming “Rust” this spring and also announced that a documentary on Hutchins will begin production.

New Mexico authorities conducted a series of witness depositions on the matter and released a report in April claiming that the film’s producers had “failed to adhere” to industry-wide firearm safety standards.

The evidence collected in the investigation has been used by defendants in other cases related to the shooting and to “correct misinformation” in the media, according to a Friday announcement.

The announcement comes a day after Baldwin, who was handling the gun that killed Hutchins, pleaded not guilty and waived his first court appearance, which was scheduled to take place Friday. Along with starring in the film, Baldwin is also a producer.

Baldwin and the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, are facing charges of involuntary manslaughter in an ongoing criminal case. Gutierrez-Reed made her first court appearance on Friday. Baldwin is also facing a civil lawsuit from Hutchins’ parents and sister.

Source: CNBC