The fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of “Rust” in October wouldn’t have happened if the company behind the Western had followed through on safety protocols it pledged to adhere to.
In fact, Rust Movie Productions, LLC, knew that firearm safety procedures weren’t being followed on the set “and demonstrated plain indifference to employee safety by failing to review work practices and take corrective action.”
Those are among the findings of an investigation conducted by the state Environment Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau. The agency has cited the production company and leveled a nearly $137,000 civil penalty over the incident. The state said in a news release that it’s the highest level of citation and maximum fine allowable under state law.
The Occupational Health and Safety Bureau launched its investigation after actor Alec Baldwin fired a shot that killed Halyna Hutchins, the film’s director of photography, and wounded Joel Souza, the director. The shooting occurred as the crew was filming the Western at Bonanza Creek Ranch outside Santa Fe.
A police investigation is ongoing.
Baldwin has said he did not pull the trigger when the gun went off and that he has no idea how a live round found its way on set.
“Our investigation found that this tragic incident never would have happened if Rust Movie Productions, LLC had followed national film industry standards for firearm safety,” Environment Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said in a news release announcing the fine. “This is a complete failure of the employer to follow recognized national protocols that keep employees safe.”