Alec Baldwin Argues No Financial Liability for Halyna Hutchins' Death, Wanted to Finish Film in Her Honor

By
This video is unavailable because we were unable to load a message from our sponsors.

If you are using ad-blocking software, please disable it and reload the page.

Alec Baldwin's lawyer says in a legal filing that someone should, in fact, be held responsible for the death of Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust, but it shouldn't be the actor.

In court documents, obtained by ET, Baldwin’s attorney filed an arbitration demand claiming the 63-year-old actor's contract protects him from financial responsibility in the the death of the late cinematographer. Baldwin's attorney states that "this is a rare instance when the system broke down, and someone should be held legally culpable for the tragic consequences. That person is not Alec Baldwin," who is among the named defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Hutchins' estate. Baldwin, who has said he did not pull the trigger on the gun, denied being "reckless" on the set.

In the legal filing against his fellow Rust producers, Baldwin's lawyer blames the film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, and assistant director Dave Halls, claiming that they assured the actor the gun he was handed was not loaded with live rounds. The actor doubled down, saying it wasn't his responsibility to check for live rounds. The filing claims Halls announced "Cold gun!" before handing Baldwin the pistol for rehearsal.

"Immediately before the handoff to Baldwin, upon information and belief, Halls had taken the gun off a prop 2 cart after it had been loaded by the set’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the person responsible for gun safety and managing the operation of firearm-related props on the set," the arbitration demand read. "Reed claims to have personally checked all of the rounds to ensure that they weren’t 'hot' and then loaded them into the pistol. Halls 'later told an investigator that, after [Reed] opened the gun for him to inspect, he did not check all of the rounds as he should have before he handed it to ... Baldwin[.]'"

The filing goes on to mention the ammunition supplier, Seth Kenney, whom Reed-Gutierrez has sued claiming he supplied live and dummy rounds to the set of the western film. Whatever the case, Baldwin's attorney argues in the filing why Baldwin should't be held responsible.

"At this point, two things are clear: someone is culpable for chambering the live round that led to this horrific tragedy, and it is someone other than Baldwin," the filing read. "Baldwin is an actor. He didn’t announce that the gun was 'cold' when it really contained a live round; he didn’t load the gun; he didn’t check the bullets in the gun; he didn’t purchase the bullets; he didn’t make the bullets and represent that they were dummies; he wasn’t in charge of firearm safety on the set; he didn’t hire the people who supplied the bullets or checked the gun; and he played no role in managing the movie’s props. Each of those jobs was performed by someone else."

In the filing, Baldwin's attorney explained in detail the moments that led to the actor's gun firing a live bullet, ultimately killing Hutchins and wounding the film's director, Joel Souza.

"Baldwin asked Hutchins what she would like to see to prepare her camera angle for the scene," the filing read. "Baldwin did not perform a 'cross-draw' of the gun. He pulled the gun out slowly, without issue, and held it still before Hutchins began giving any directions to him. Hutchins described what she would like Baldwin to do with the placement of the gun, which contained only 'dummy rounds,' as far as everyone was told."

"She directed Baldwin to hold the gun higher, to a point where it was directed toward her," the filing continued. "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. Baldwin asked Hutchins whether she wanted to see him cock the gun, as the script required. She responded yes. Baldwin tipped the gun down somewhat so that the lens of the camera would be able to focus on his hand’s action on the top of the gun. While performing this action, Baldwin asked Hutchins, 'Am I holding it too far down?' and 'Do you see that?' Hutchins responded that she could see Baldwin’s action from her angle. Baldwin then pulled back the hammer, but not far enough to actually cock the gun. When Baldwin let go of the hammer, the gun went off."

Baldwin, who said in the filing he returned $100,000 of his $250,000 salary for his role in the film, also addressed accusations that he refused training with weapons on the set. His lawyer points to email correspondence with the film's costume designer, showing Baldwin requested gun training by the crew member responsible for firearms on the set long before the film started.

The filing also shows Baldwin trained with Reed for around 90 minutes, and it was during that session when she reminded him of gun safety measures "he had learned at substantially similar gun trainings throughout his career, such as always putting the gun down immediately once 'cut' is called and not to force the gun if it jams."

The filing claims Reed "did not instruct Baldwin to check the gun himself. In fact, she told Baldwin that it was her job to check the gun -- not his."

Following the tragedy, Baldwin's attorney claims it was the actor who took it upon himself "to provide [the Hutchins family] redress for their loss," which included finishing the film to honor Hutchins.

"The proposed settlement for Hutchins included a component of insurance proceeds," the filing read. "In addition, Baldwin made an exhaustive effort to contact the Rust cast in the hope of acquiring their support to finish the film. He did so both with the intent of honoring Halyna’s legacy by completing her last work and of compensating Hutchins and his son from the film’s profits. Depending on the success of Rust upon its completion and release, this additional component of the settlement would likely have equaled millions of dollars."

Baldwin's attorney also attached a barrage of screen shots showing text messages between Baldwin and Hutchins, dating since the day after the fatal shooting. In that text message, "Baldwin contacted Matthew Hutchins via text message, reaching out to inquire if they may speak. Hutchins responded, 'Thanks for getting in touch. I think it would help if we can confront this crisis together. I am open to discussing,' and 'Please do call when you are ready.'"

Matthew recently told the Today show that watching Baldwin's interview with George Stephanopoulos made him angry. But Baldwin's attorney claims Matthew and Baldwin had a friendly text message exchange two weeks after that interview on ABC.

"On December 17, over two weeks after Baldwin’s interview with Stephanopoulos had aired on ABC, Baldwin sent a text message to Hutchins in light of the upcoming holidays, writing, 'In spite of the anguish of all of this, I am wishing you and your son a happy holiday,'" the filing reads. "Hutchins responded—again, more than two weeks after the interview—stating, 'I genuinely hope you and the whole family can get together and have moments of fun, love, and togetherness and that it is a healing time for everyone.'"

In the filing against his fellow Rust producers, Baldwin seeks to "indemnify, defend, and hold harmless" his production company, El Dorado Pictures, and the actor from any liability. Baldwin, who recently said those with "deep pockets" are being targeted in these lawsuits, is also asking that his legal fees be covered.

ET has reached out to lawyers for the Rust production and producer named in Baldwin's filing. Following Baldwin's filing, Matthew Hutchins' attorney, Brian Panish, told ET in a statement accusing the actor of "trying to avoid liability and accountability for his reckless actions before and on Oct 21st that resulted in the death of Halyna Hutchins."

"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," the statement continued. "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."

Reed's lawyers also released a statement in response to Baldwin's filing. 

"Mr. Baldwin as well as others within that Church had a duty and responsibility to call Hannah in for inspection of the gun and safety instruction before any gun scene was conducted. Hannah was not called into the Church before the impromptu gun scene rehearsal and she should have been. The fact that the video village was down that day further prevented Hannah from knowing what was going on inside the Church. Mr. Baldwin knew that he could never point a firearm at crew members under any circumstances and had a duty of safety to his fellow crew members. Yet he did point the gun at Halyna before the fatal incident against all rules and common sense. This is one of the biggest rules in the SAG safety bulletins, which Mr. Baldwin should know about being a SAG foundation ambassador," reads the statement. "

Hannah had prop duties that she was forced to deal with at the time due to production forcing her to take on more responsibilities for props. Hannah tried her best to be present as armorer, fight for more training with Baldwin, and make guns her ultimate priority on set but faced constant resistance from production and also Baldwin as part of the production team. Hannah emphasized the importance of training Mr. Baldwin in the cross draw, which is dangerous. He never accepted the offer and Hannah was not able to conduct that training as well as other training she wanted to do, because of budgeting and being overruled by production. At the same time, it cannot be over emphasized that live rounds should never have been on set and our investigation continues to press for the truth on how they got there."

RELATED CONTENT:

Alec Baldwin Says Lawsuit Targets People They Think Are Deep-Pocketed

Halyna Hutchins' Husband Criticizes Alec Baldwin in First TV Interview

Alec Baldwin Named in Wrongful Death Suit by Halyna Hutchins' Estate

Alec Baldwin Denies 'Reckless' Claim in 'Rust' Wrongful Death Lawsuit