SAG-AFTRA releases statement on Rust charges

Rust
(Alec Baldwin, Halyna Hutchins)

Last week, Prosecutors made the decision to charge actor Alec Baldwin and the Rust’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, each with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. This came nearly a year after Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins on the set of the Western in 2021.

Hutchins was killed by a live round of ammunition fired from a prop gun held by Baldwin, who maintains he did not pull the gun’s trigger. The actor has also maintained he was not aware the gun he fired during a rehearsal contained a live round.

SAG-AFTRA released the following statement on today’s news regarding charges in the Rust tragedy.

“The death of Halyna Hutchins is a tragedy, and all the more so because of its preventable nature. It is not a failure of duty or a criminal act on the part of any performer. 

“The prosecutor’s contention that an actor has a duty to ensure the functional and mechanical operation of a firearm on a production set is wrong and uninformed. An actor’s job is not to be a firearms or weapons expert. Firearms are provided for their use under the guidance of multiple expert professionals directly responsible for the safe and accurate operation of that firearm. In addition, the employer is always responsible for providing a safe work environment at all times, including hiring and supervising the work of professionals trained in weapons. 

“The Industry Standards for safety with firearms and use of blank ammunition are clearly laid out in Safety Bulletin 1, provided by the Joint Industry-Wide Labor Management Safety Commission. The guidelines require an experienced, qualified armorer to be put in charge of all handling, use and safekeeping of firearms on set. These duties include ‘inspecting the firearm and barrel before and after every firing sequence,’ and ‘checking all firearms before each use.’  


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“The guidelines do not make it the performer’s responsibility to check any firearm. Performers train to perform, and they are not required or expected to be experts on guns or experienced in their use. The industry assigns that responsibility to qualified professionals who oversee their use and handling in every aspect. Anyone issued a firearm on set must be given training and guidance in its safe handling and use, but all activity with firearms on a set must be under the careful supervision and control of the professional armorer and the employer.”

Sante Fe Prosecutor Mary Carmack-Altwies says she’ll formally file the charges “before the end of this month,” but that her office will not request an arrest of Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed. The two will be required at an initial court appearance, which they may do by video. The district attorney says she does not plan to charge anyone else involved in the production.

Melina Spadone, attorney for Rust Movie Productions, LLC, confirmed to USA TODAY Monday that production for Rust is on track with Baldwin in the lead role and with Joel Souza returning as director.

It was also confirmed there will be on-set safety supervisors and union crew members on set and that working weapons and ammunition will be barred.

Last fall, Hutchins’ family settled a lawsuit against producers and agreed to restart filming with Matthew’s involvement asEP. 


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