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Alec Baldwin has given a detailed account of what occurred on the day cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot on the set of his Western film “Rust” last year.
Since the death of Hutchins on Oct. 21 in New Mexico, the actor has been named in several lawsuits seeking damages.
But in an arbitration demand that Baldwin’s attorneys filed on Friday against his producers, they claimed that the star’s contract protects him from financial responsibility in Hutchins’ death. In the demand, his attorneys also seek coverage of his legal fees.
According to documents obtained by The New York Times, the filing stated that the 63-year-old was not responsible for Hutchins’ death because he was assured that the gun didn’t contain any live ammunition. In addition, he was not responsible for checking the ammunition or for firearm safety on set.
Attorneys for Baldwin didn’t immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
Brian Panish at PSB Law (Panish, Shea, Boyle & Ravipudi Law), a lawyer representing Hutchins’ husband Matthew Hutchins, told Fox News Digital that this is an attempt by Baldwin to “avoid liability and accountability.”
“Alec Baldwin once again is trying to avoid liability and accountability for his reckless actions before and on Oct 21st that resulted in the death of Halyna Hutchins, as demonstrated by today’s arbitration demand for indemnification from the Rust production company,” the lawyer said in a statement.
“Baldwin’s disclosure of personal texts with Matt Hutchins is irrelevant to his demand for arbitration and fails to demonstrate anything other than Hutchins’ dignity in his engagement with Baldwin. It is shameful that Baldwin claims Hutchins’ actions in filing a wrongful death lawsuit derailed the completion of “Rust.” The only action that ended the film’s production was Baldwin’s killing of Halyna Hutchins.”
Some former crew members have alleged in lawsuits that safety on set was sacrificed by cutting costs. While Baldwin was involved in creative matters, the filing noted that others had authority specifically over hiring and budgets. The filing also stated that Baldwin was to be paid $250,000 to serve as both star and producer, but he gave back $100,000 as an “investment” in “Rust.”
The filing also gave new details about Baldwin’s relationship with Matthew Hutchins, the widower of the late cinematographer. It shared that while it started with words of condolences and support amid the tragedy, it has since deteriorated. Hutchins’ husband has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Baldwin this year.
The filing, the outlet noted, provided the most vivid account to date of what occurred leading up to the fatal shooting. It reportedly took place after lunch while Baldwin rehearsed a scene inside a church. His character, Harland Rust, was cornered before he drew his gun. The filing stated that Hutchins instructed Baldwin how to position the gun for the scene.
“She directed Baldwin to hold the gun higher, to a point where it was directed toward her,” it stated. “She was looking carefully at the monitor and then at Baldwin, and then back again, as she gave these instructions. In giving and following these instructions, Hutchins and Baldwin shared a core, vital belief: that the gun was ‘cold’ and contained no live rounds.”
The filing explained that Baldwin asked Hutchins if she wanted him to pull back the hammer, as the script instructed. She reportedly said yes. Baldwin then pulled back the hammer, but it wasn’t far enough to cock the gun. However, when he let go of the hammer, the gun went off.
Chicago-based attorney Andrew Stoltmann told Fox News Digital that at this point, Baldwin “is trying to blame others and escape financial liability.”
“It’s a little like the game ‘pin the tail on everyone else,’” he explained. “Unfortunately, given his status on the firm and that he was a producer and investor it will be really hard for him to do. Baldwin is ultimately the deep pocket in this case and that is not a position that is good for his financial well-being.”
Following the shooting, Hutchins was flown by helicopter to the hospital. However, she was later pronounced dead. At the end of his interview with the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, Baldwin was shown a photograph of the projectile that passed through Hutchins and also wounded director Joel Souza.
“Baldwin recognized the object as a live bullet, and he finally began to comprehend what had transpired on the set of ‘Rust’ that day,” the filing stated. “He was shocked.”
According to the filing, Baldwin’s lawyer, Luke Nikas, said the actor bears no financial responsibility for legal fees or claims associated with the death due to a clause he and his company signed in his contract with Rust Movie Productions LLC.
Instead, the document lists Rust Movie Productions LLC and producer Ryan Smith as the respondents in the claim.
Nikas described Baldwin as one who not only trusted in others to do their jobs but also as someone who has been haunted by Hutchins’ death.
“This is a rare instance when the system broke down, and someone should be held legally culpable for the tragic consequences,” he wrote. “That person is not Alec Baldwin.”
Nikas also described that Baldwin later attempted to persuade the cast and crew to finish the filming of “Rust” in honor of Hutchins. The outlet described that a plan was outlined in which an insurance payout, as well as the film’s profits, would go to a settlement for Hutchins’ widower and their 9-year-old son.
The filing claimed that Baldwin and Matthew Hutchins attempted to have a relationship following the death that continued via calls and texts. However, it soured after Baldwin gave a televised interview in December where he denied responsibility for Halyna Hutchins’ death. Afterward, Matthew Hutchins filed a lawsuit against Baldwin and gave his own interview in February. During that sit-down, Matthew Hutchins said he was angry by Baldwin’s unwillingness to accept responsibility for the tragedy.
The filing stated that Baldwin wasn’t aware of any safety concerns on set. But two lawsuits filed by crew members claimed that Baldwin should have checked that the gun was safe to handle even after receiving any kind of assurance from the film’s first assistant director.
The filing pointed out that during firearm training, the movie’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, told Baldwin that “it was her job to check the gun — not his.” It noted that it was a similar instruction he was given before.
“An actor cannot rule that a gun is safe,” the filing stated. “That is the responsibility of other people on the set.”
A lawsuit filed by Serge Svetnoy, the film’s gaffer, claimed that the movie’s producers had “declined requests for weapons training days.” Gutierrez-Reed also alleged that Baldwin failed to attend “cross draw” training. However, Baldwin’s filing said that he did inquire about lessons about a month before he showed up on set. It also noted that Baldwin had training once he had arrived.
It alleged that Mamie Mitchell, the script supervisor, told Baldwin shortly after the fatal shooting, “You realize you’re not responsible for any of what happened in there, don’t you?” Mitchell is now suing Baldwin and other producers. She blamed him for failing to check whether the gun he was handling was loaded.
In January of this year, Baldwin turned over his cellphone to investigators. Baldwin’s attorney Aaron Dyer said he continues to cooperate fully with the investigation.
Investigators have described “some complacency” in how weapons were handled on the “Rust” set. They have said it is too soon to determine whether charges will be filed.
During his interview, Matthew Hutchins told Hoda Kotb that it was “absurd” that Baldwin believes he’s not to blame for the shooting.
“The idea that the person holding the gun and causing it to discharge is not responsible is absurd to me,” he explained.
“Watching him I just felt so angry. I was just so angry to see him talk about her death so publicly in such a detailed way and then to not accept any responsibility after having just described killing her.”
Matthew Hutchins added that “gun safety was not the only problem on that set.”
“There were a number of industry standards that were not practiced,” he said, “and there’s multiple responsible parties.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.