Rust head of lighting Serge Svetnoy filed the first lawsuit against actor and producer Alec Baldwin and other members of the film crew on Wednesday, after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed by a gunshot during filming.
In a press conference in Los Angeles, Svetnoy, who claims he was nearly hit by the bullet that killed Hutchins, says that he saw firsthand various weapons “unattended in the sand” and allegedly unsupervised throughout the filming at Bonanza Creek Ranch, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Due to such conditions on set and the subsequent fatal incident, Svetnov filed a suit in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging negligence by the film producers, including Baldwin, as well as the assistant director and the propmaster.
Per court documents, the gaffer blames chief armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed for accepting a job allegedly above her experience level in a production that “would have required multiple assistant armorers.”
According to the lawsuit, Gutierrez-Reed allegedly “negligently allowed” a Colt .45 revolver with at least one live round to be handed over to assistant director David Halls, who also failed to properly inspect the gun and subsequently gave it to Baldwin.
In addition, Svetnoy claimed that Baldwin also “owed the duty” to “double-check” that the revolver was not loaded with real ammunition before pulling the trigger.
“This duty further called for him to handle the Colt Revolver as if it was loaded and to refrain from pointing it at anyone,” the lawsuit alleges.
At the press conference, Svetnoy said that he is convinced that the producers bear much of the blame since they allegedly “attempted to save money by hiring an insufficient number of crew members to safely handle the props and firearms.”
“Because the use of guns and live ammunition in motion pictures amounts to an inherently dangerous activity, the producers of Rust had a duty to hire persons trained and experienced in carefully overseeing the use of firearms and ammunition in the filming of the motion picture,” added Svetnoy in his complaint.
As official investigations move forward, other details have become known, such as that Halls, who gave the gun to Baldwin, was fired from another shoot in 2019 for a similar incident, although fortunately, no one was injured.
Halls admitted in October that he did not check the gun he handed to Baldwin before rehearsing the scene because he was sure it contained fake bullets.