Alec Baldwin settles lawsuit with family of cinematographer killed on film set

Halyna Hutchins shot dead with prop gun during filming of western as Santa Fe DA says criminal charges could yet be brought

Alec Baldwin has agreed to a settlement with the family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins who was killed on the set of the western Rust she was filming in New Mexico in 2021 when she was shot with a prop gun the US actor was using.

The parties reached an undisclosed settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in February against the actor and other defendants.

The original lawsuit, filed by Hutchins’s family, claimed Rust film producers “failed to perform industry standard safety checks and follow basic gun safety rules while using real guns to produce the movie Rust, with fatal consequences”.

A statement released by Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, from the New York law firm Quinn Emamuel, said: “Throughout this difficult process, everyone has maintained the specific desire to do what is best for Halyna’s son. We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the resolution of this tragic and painful situation.”

Baldwin, who was also a producer on the film as well as being the star when the tragedy occurred, is among up to four people who still may face criminal charges later this month over the death of Hutchins, a New Mexico prosecutor said in late September.

The final police report on the shooting near Santa Fe is expected this month, at which time prosecutors will file criminal charges if warranted, district attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies told the state’s finance board.

On Wednesday afternoon, her office added that the proposed settlement had no impact on her eventual decision whether to file criminal charges in the case.

“If the facts and evidence warrant criminal charges under New Mexico law then charges will be brought. No one is above the law,” a statement issued on behalf of Carmack-Altwies said.

Alec Baldwin.
Alec Baldwin, who was also a producer on the film. Photograph: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

The movie will resume filming in January and Matthew Hutchins, Halyna’s widower, will be an executive producer and receive a portion of the profits, the lawyer’s statement on Wednesday added.

A statement from Hutchins read: “We have reached a settlement, subject to court approval, for our wrongful death case against the producers of Rust, including Alec Baldwin and Rust Movie Productions, LLC. As part of that settlement, our case will be dismissed.”

He added: “I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr Baldwin). All of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident. I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna’s final work.”

News of the settlement was first reported by entertainment outlet Deadline.

The film’s director, Joel Souza, was also injured in the shooting. He is expected to return as director on the film. It was not known on Wednesday whether Baldwin would have any further involvement.

In August, Baldwin blamed the assistant director and props manager for the death of Hutchins.

In April, the state of New Mexico fined the Rust producers for safety lapses and authorities called Hutchins’s death “avoidable”.

On Wednesday, Souza said: “Those of us who were lucky enough to have spent time with Halyna knew her to be exceedingly talented, kind, creative, and a source of incredible positive energy. I only wish the world had gotten to know her under different circumstances, as it surely would have through her amazing work.”

He added: “In my own attempts to heal, any decision to return to finish directing the film could only make sense for me if it was done with the involvement of Matt and the Hutchins family. Though certainly bittersweet, I am pleased that together, we will now complete what Halyna and I started. My every effort on this film will be devoted to honoring Halyna’s legacy and making her proud. It is a privilege to see this through on her behalf.”

Last December, in his first interview since the shooting, Baldwin told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he was told by members of the crew that the gun was “cold”, or empty of live ammunition. He maintains he did not pull the trigger, but an FBI report found that the prop weapon could not be fired without pulling its trigger.

It is not yet known how a live bullet got into the gun rather than a dummy.

The film’s working conditions came under fire in the wake of the shooting, casting a light on the shortcuts taken when it came to hiring qualified crew and following safety practices.

The film and television union, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, at the time expressed outrage at reports of union workers being replaced by non-union workers after protesting unsafe work practices on the set: “Local 600 member Halyna Hutchins lost her life doing what she loved – creating meaningful and evocative imagery in service of a story.

“Long-established safety protocols, many layers of them, were not followed. It has always been the employer’s obligation to hire qualified people to handle the logistical challenges of a given project. It is also their duty to provide a safe work environment for all employees. They failed Halyna and they failed IA members in this most sacred and important duty.”


Erum Salam and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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