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As we reported earlier, following the fatal shooting on the set of “Rust,” New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau announced that the film’s production company, Rust Movie Productions LLC, would be fined the maximum $139,793 for serious safety failures that occurred on the set. Alec Baldwin’s attorney is now claiming that the new report “exonerates” him.
Statement posted by Alec Baldwin: pic.twitter.com/mXxvU1ZFG9
— Cristina Tenaglia (@cristina_CP24) April 20, 2022
“We appreciate the report exonerates Mr. Baldwin by making clear that he believed the gun held only dummy rounds,” Baldwin said in a statement through his attorney. The attorney claimed that the report found Baldwin’s role was “limited to approving script changes and creative casting. Mr. Baldwin had no authority over the matters that were the subject of the Bureau’s findings of violations, and we are pleased that the New Mexico officials have clarified these critical issues.”
Except that isn’t what the report says. The report doesn’t say that his power was “limited” to script changes. It says his powers “included” script changes and actor candidates. Words matter, and included doesn’t mean limited. Plus, as they note, that wasn’t his only role, as the report laid out.
Alec Baldwin, Actor and Producer, and Joel Souza, Director, negotiated with various producers to help create and fund the Rust project. Alec Baldwin’s authority on the set included approving script changes and actor candidates. Alec Baldwin handled the revolver and fired the round that struck and injured Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza.
The report does not say Baldwin bears no responsibility for what occurred, despite the spin of the attorneys.
The report lays out a variety of problems including that no action was taken to follow up or implement any corrective action regarding the two misfires that had occurred on the set or the concerns expressed about safety. It also lays out how they were doing things on the cheap — trying to limit the days where the armorer would be paid as an armorer. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed raised questions about her dual role as the armorer and as the prop assistant. She was only accorded eight days as the armorer and was criticized for spending more time on that than on being a prop assistant.
Gutierrez-Reed told the line producer, Gabrielle Pickle, that being an armorer was “a very serious job and since we’ve started I’ve had a lot of days where my job should only be to focus on the guns and everyone’s safety.” Gutierrez-Reed said, “There are working guns on set every day and those are ultimately going to be a priority because when they are not that’s when dangerous mistakes can happen.” She also raised the question to Pickle on the eighth day of her armorer position as to how they would handle things going forward.
On October 17, 2021, Hanna Gutierrez-Reed sent a text message to Gabrielle Pickle stating, “Hey, we’re on day 8 of Armor days. So if there’s gunfire after this you may want to talk to the producers.” Ms. Pickle replied the same day that there would be “No more trading (sic) days.” Ms. Gutierrez-Reed then asked to clarify, “Training days?” Ms. Pickle responded, “Like training Alec and such.”
The shooting then occurred on October 21. Jason Bowles, Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney said had his client been called back in to help, the shooting could have been prevented.
“Critically, OSHA also determined that production failed to call Hannah in to perform her armorer duties and inspect the firearm right before its use in the impromptu scene with Baldwin,” he continued. “As we have stated before, had anyone from Production called Hannah in back into the church before the scene to consult with her, this tragedy would have been prevented.”
The report notes that the first assistant camera person, Lane Luper, also quit because of the failure to conduct safety meetings, so that the management had ample notice of the issues that were going on.
Failure to implement: Lane Luper stated that many camera shots had the firearms pointed and firing at the camera. Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza were injured when a firearm was pointed in their direction, with Hutchins’ injury resulting in death. Rust management representative Dave Halls was present prior to and at the time the firearm discharged a live round, severely injuring two crew members. As Rust’s top-level management safety official, Mr. Halls did not consult with the Property Master or Armorer during or after the firearm was loaded, handed to the actor, and pointed toward crew members in order to determine that pointing the firearm at persons was “absolutely necessary.”
So the report excoriates the Rust team for demonstrating “plain indifference” to the hazards.
As a result of the inspection, OHSB determined that Rust was responsible for a serious violation of the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Act (“the Act”). While no specific state or federal OSHA standards exist for firearms used in the film industry, it is clear both the employer and the film industry recognized the hazard associated with the use of firearms on movie sets, and the potential for serious injury to employees. Further, Rust demonstrated plain indifference to the safety of employees by ignoring recognized hazards inherent to the use of firearms and ammunition by failing to take appropriate corrective or investigative actions after two firearms-related incidents (misfires) occurred on October 16, 2021, and after employee(s) notified management that they did not feel safe with how weapons were being handled on set. Rust failed to follow company safety procedures, which likely would have prevented the accident from occurring.
Baldwin is one of the producers, so he can’t just say, “Well, it’s on everyone else.” The question in the civil actions will be how much responsibility he had concerning this.
But another thing that should be noted about this report — it’s not the end of the story. While there are pending civil actions, including by the family of Halyna Hutchins and a script supervisor, there’s also an ongoing criminal investigation. So when Baldwin’s attorney is claiming his client is exonerated, the police have not determined that. We’ll have to wait and see, but it did sound like they were taking it very seriously and being very thorough in their efforts. Rust Movie Productions said they disagreed with the decision of New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau and intended to appeal.
Source: This post first appeared on RedState