Crew member sues Baldwin and others over 'Rust' shooting

Lawsuit alleges negligence that caused head of lighting "severe emotional distress"

The head of lighting on the film “Rust” has filed a lawsuit over Alec Baldwin’s fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the New Mexico set of the Western film, alleging negligence that caused him “severe emotional distress” that will haunt him forever.

Serge Svetnoy said in the suit that the bullet that killed his close friend Hutchins, narrowly missed him, and he held her head as she died.

“They should never, ever, have had live rounds on this set,” Mr Svetnoy’s attorney Gary A. Dordick said at a news conference Wednesday.

The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court names nearly two dozen defendants associated with the film including Baldwin, who was both star and a producer; David Halls, the assistant director who handed Baldwin the gun; and Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who was in charge of weapons on the set.

It is the first known lawsuit of what could be many stemming from the October 21 shooting.

Mr Svetnoy said he had seen guns sitting unattended in the dirt a few days earlier in the shoot, and had warned the people responsible about them.

On the day of the shooting, Mr Svetnoy was setting up lighting within two metres of Baldwin, the suit says.

“What happened next will haunt Plaintiff forever,” the suit says. “He felt a strange and terrifying whoosh of what felt like pressurised air from his right. He felt what he believed was gunpowder and other residual materials directly strike the right side of his face.”

Investigators in Santa Fe, where Rust was being made, said last month they had seized a cache of ammunition, some of which they believe was live, and the sheriff told reporters there was "some complacency" on set.

Ms Guitierrez Reid had previously said she had "no idea" why live rounds were present on the set, and her lawyers have claimed that "this was sabotaged" and that Ms Guitierrez Reid is "being framed".

Santa Fe-area District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said investigators have encountered no proof of sabotage.

Ms Carmack-Altwies said that investigators know who loaded the gun, though it remains unclear how the deadly round of ammunition got on the movie set. The district attorney said she is concerned that there were so many levels of safety failures.

Baldwin had previously shared a post on social media defending conditions on the film set.

"These producers who supposedly don't care about their crew have worked tirelessly alongside us," one post said.

Baldwin, in footage captured by TMZ, told reporters that the accident was a "one-in-a-trillion" event.

"There are incidental accidents on film sets from time to time, but nothing like this," Baldwin said.

Authorities have not yet ruled out pressing criminal charges.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Updated: November 11th 2021, 4:29 PM
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