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Alec Baldwin Says Government Report ‘Exonerates’ Him in Deadly New Mexico Film Set Shooting

Alec Baldwin speaks during the 2021 RFK Ripple Of Hope Gala at New York Hilton Midtown on December 9, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.)

Alec Baldwin speaks during the 2021 RFK Ripple Of Hope Gala at New York Hilton Midtown on December 9, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.)

Actor Alec Baldwin claims that an occupational safety report released Wednesday by New Mexico authorities “exonerates” him from wrongdoing in a deadly shooting on the set of the film “Rust.”

Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer, died after the shooting; Joel Souza, the director, was injured by the same bullet.

“We are grateful to the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau [OHSB] for investigating this matter,” reads a statement Baldwin posted on Instagram. “We appreciate that the report exonerates Mr. Baldwin by making clear that he believed the gun held only dummy rounds.”

“Additionally, the report recognized that Mr. Baldwin’s authority on the production was limited to approving script changes and creative casting,” the statement continued. “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. We are confident that the individuals in the report will be held accountable for this tragedy.”

Halyna Hutchins appears in a photo released by her family's attorneys.

Halyna Hutchins appears in a photo released by her family’s attorneys.

In a separate post, Baldwin drew attention to these specific lines from the state report:

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.

But Baldwin’s post glossed over the next sentence in the report, which reads as follows:

Alec Baldwin handled the revolver and fired the round that struck and injured Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza.

According to documents released Wednesday, New Mexico authorities levied a maximum $136,793 civil penalty for Rust Movie Productions, LLC, the company behind the ill-fated and now-scuttled Western.  The penalty was the result of “willful” and “serious” violations, according to the state paperwork.

A press release issued by OHSB said Rust Movie Productions, LLC “failed to follow” what the state called “clear national guidelines for firearms safety.”

As Law&Crime previously explained at length, the state’s report was highly critical of “Rust” management but was largely sympathetic to armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. The latter was under contract to provide only eight days of armorer duties on the production, state investigators determined; the rest of her time was said by the state to have been earmarked for general prop duties.

Thell Reed and Hannah Gutierrez Reed appear in an ABC News screengrab.

Thell Reed and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed appear in an ABC News screengrab.  Thell Reed, the famous Hollywood armorer, is Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s father; he was not directly involved with “Rust.”

Gutierrez-Reed had emailed her superiors to request more time for firearms safety measures, the state concluded.  Others on the crew also warned management of unsafe practices — including two accidental weapon discharges — on the set prior to the deadly shooting of Hutchins.  Those conversations and messages are all explained in the state’s report.

But the report also said that Rust Movie Productions intended only to have blank or dummy ammunition on set.

Litigation surrounding the shooting continues in the civil courts.  The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office and Santa Fe County District Attorney are examining whether any criminal laws were violated, the OHSB added.

The full report is below:

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.