Alec Baldwin Accuses Crew of Negligence for ‘Rust’ Death in Cross-Complaint

The actor is attempting to clear his name in the on-set accidental shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins

Alec Baldwin
Photo by Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images for National Geographic

Alec Baldwin has filed a cross-complaint in regard to the on-set shooting death of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, alleging in a lawsuit filed Friday that the blame lies with three of the film’s crew members, as well as the man who supplied ammunition to the set.  

Baldwin named Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, David Halls, Seth Kenney, PDQ Arm and Prop, LLC (“PDQ”) and Sarah Zachry collectively as “cross-defendants” in a suit originally filed against him last year by Mamie Mitchell, the film’s script supervisor. In his suit, he claims that he relied on the four of them to do their jobs and that Hutchins’ death was a result of their negligence and, as a result, Baldwin says has experienced “immense grief” and suffered an “emotional, physical and financial toll.” 

“The negligence of Gutierrez-Reed, Halls, Kenney, PDQ, and Zachry has caused Baldwin substantial harm,” Baldwin’s complaint reads. “Over the last year, Baldwin has suffered substantial damage as a result of the events on October 21. He has suffered physically and emotionally from the grief caused by these events. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about, and suffer from, the events that happened that day. Baldwin has also lost numerous job opportunities and associated income. For example, he’s been fired from multiple jobs expressly because of the incident on Rust and has been passed over for other opportunities, which is a direct result of the negligence of Cross-Defendants Gutierrez-Reed, Halls, Kenney, PDQ, and Zachry.”

“More than anyone else on that set,” the actor’s attorney, Luke Nikas of Quinn Emanuel, wrote, “Baldwin has been wrongfully viewed as the perpetrator of this tragedy. By these Cross-Claims, Baldwin seeks to clear his name and hold Cross-Defendants accountable for their conduct.” 

Baldwin “demands a trial by jury” and seeks “compensatory, nominal, statutory, and punitive damages where applicable to Cross-Complainant in an amount to be determined at trial, including any damages arising out of Plaintiff Mitchell’s claims in this lawsuit.”

On Oct. 21, 2021, Baldwin was holding a Colt .45 revolver when it went off during preparation for a scene near Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has asserted that he pulled the hammer back, although not far enough to cock it, and then released it – causing the gun to fire. He has stated that he did not pull the trigger.  

The Colt .45 should have contained dummy rounds, which contain neither projectile nor charge, but it was loaded instead with one live round, which passed through Hutchins’ body and lodged in the shoulder of director Joel Souza.  

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office recently completed its criminal investigation, and local prosecutors are currently considering whether to file charges against Baldwin or any of the other crew members. The cross-complaint is what amounts to a detailed and lengthy exoneration of Baldwin prepared by his civil attorneys. It includes text messages and photos from the Sheriff’s investigation.  

The document faults armorer Gutierrez-Reed for having “failed to perform her job carefully and as a result, a live round was loaded into a gun that she had negligently failed to identify.”

The suit alleges that “Gutierrez-Reed failed to check the bullets or the gun carefully, Halls failed to check the gun carefully and yet announced the gun was safe before handing it to Baldwin.”

Baldwin also accuses David Halls, the first assistant director, of failing to check the gun carefully and faults him for declaring the gun to be “cold” as he handed it to Baldwin, on-set lingo stating that the rounds did not contain any charges.  

In addition, the cross-complaint faults Sarah Zachry, the propmaster, for failing to adequately supervise Gutierrez Reed and failing to maintain a safe set. Baldwin also accuses Seth Kenney, the supplier, of showing a “cavalier disregard for proper separation between live and dummy ammunition.” All four have previously denied culpability. Gutierrez-Reed has sued Kenney for supplying her with live ammunition that closely resembled dummy rounds, which Kenney has denied. 

Mitchell, who is represented by Gloria Allred, alleges in her lawsuit that she was four feet away when the gun went off and that she suffered painful ringing in her ears in addition to emotional trauma. She says that Baldwin intentionally “cocked and fired the loaded gun even though the upcoming scene to be filmed did not call for the cocking and firing of a firearm.” 

Baldwin has tried to throw out the suit, arguing that on-set accidents are the exclusive domain of New Mexico workers’ compensation system.  

A Los Angeles judge denied his motion on Nov. 1, 2022.