The script supervisor who called 911 after Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the western movie Rust last month has filed an assault lawsuit in Los Angeles that largely faults the actor for not checking his prop weapon himself.
Mamie Mitchell claims in her new 29-page complaint obtained by Rolling Stone that she was standing next to Hutchins, just four feet away from Baldwin, when the actor drew the loaded .45 Colt revolver and fired while practicing a shot at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Oct. 21.
She alleges Baldwin — along with the movie’s producers, assistant director, rookie armorer and others — failed to follow adequate safety protocols on the problem-plagued set, making the fatal tragedy all but inevitable. She further claims there wasn’t even an active rehearsal underway or any reason to pull the trigger when the gun discharged in the crowded wooden church.
“Alec Baldwin intentionally, without just cause or excuse, cocked and fired the loaded gun even though the upcoming scene to be filmed did not call for the cocking and firing of the firearm,” reads the lawsuit filed Wednesday morning in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
“We allege in our lawsuit that the events that led to the shooting by Mr. Baldwin of a loaded gun do not constitute simple negligence on Alec Baldwin’s part or the producers of Rust. Instead, in our opinion, Mr. Baldwin chose to play Russian Roulette when he fired a gun without checking it and without having the armorer do so in his presence,” Mitchell’s lawyer, Gloria Allred, said at a press conference Wednesday.
Allred and Mitchell allege that Baldwin, being “an industry veteran,” should have known better than to trust the safety of a gun handed to him by anyone other than the movie’s prop master or armorer. In this case, the gun was given to Baldwin by assistant director Dave Halls, who allegedly declared it was “cold,” meaning it was not loaded with live rounds.
“Alec Baldwin should have assumed that the gun in question was loaded unless and until it was demonstrated to him or checked by him that it was not loaded. He had no right to rely upon some alleged statement by the assistant director that it was a ‘cold gun.’ Mr. Baldwin cannot hide behind the assistant director to attempt to excuse the fact that he did not check the gun himself,” the complaint states.
“I’ll never forget what happened on the set of Rust that day. I relive the shooting and the sound of the explosion of the gun over and over again. I’m depressed. I don’t feel safe,” Mitchell said Wednesday.
“This violent tragedy has taken away the joy in my life. I have also lost a new friend who was an extraordinary and rare person and future collaborator,” she said, referring to Hutchins, someone she also described as “pure light.”
In audio of her harrowing 911 call released by local authorities, Mitchell immediately directed blame for the shooting at Halls.
“This fucking [assistant director] that yelled at me at lunch — asking about revisions, this motherfucker — he’s supposed to check the guns, he’s responsible for what happens on the set,” Mitchell said in the call. “We were rehearsing and it went off and I ran out, we all ran out.”
According to the new complaint, Mitchell has suffered “extreme and severe emotional distress,” as well as “serious physical trauma and shock and injury to her nervous system and person.”
The new complaint follows a week after Serge Svetnoy, the production’s chief of lighting, filed a negligence lawsuit against the film’s producers, including Baldwin, as well as Halls and rookie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.
Svetnoy, who previously wrote on Facebook that he was close friends with Hutchins and held her in his arms as she lay dying, said last week that he tried in vain to console Hutchins’ mother at the cinematographer’s funeral.
“My heart was torn when her mother was crying in my arms, asking how to survive the loss of her child,” he told reporters at a press conference. “I still cannot believe she is no longer with us. …What a terrible tragedy and injustice when a person loses her life on a film set while making art.”
Svetnoy’s 25-page lawsuit alleges Baldwin should be on the hook for real and punitive damages along with the other named defendants, because he had a “duty” to “double-check” the Colt revolver for live ammunition.
“Taking a gun and assuming it’s safe and pulling the trigger is a breach of that duty,” Svetnoy’s lawyer Gary Dordick told Rolling Stone last week. “So, Alec Baldwin is not treated any better or any worse, but he’s held to the basic standard of care of a reasonable person in those circumstances.”
Baldwin, 63, is cooperating with the investigation by Santa Fe County authorities and tweeted the day after the deadly shooting that he was stunned by what happened. “There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother, and deeply admired colleague of ours. I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna,” he wrote on social media. He later spoke to photographers on the side of a road in Vermont, calling the shooting a “one-in-a-trillion” accident.
Gutierrez-Reed and her lawyer, meanwhile, are adamant that she did not allow live rounds on set. “We are asking for a full and complete investigation of all of the facts, including the live rounds themselves, how they ended up in the ‘dummies’ box, and who put them in there. We are convinced that this was sabotage and Hannah is being framed,” attorney Jason Bowles said in a statement last week. “We believe that the scene was tampered with as well before the police arrived,” he continued. “The truth-finding process demands that the District Attorney and FBI run down all of the evidence, including the nature of those live rounds.”
Asked by Rolling Stone to respond to that statement, Dordick said, “The suggesting by Ms. Gutierrez-Reed that someone put a live bullet in there intending him to point it and pull the trigger, meaning somebody sabotaged it to commit a murder, to me that sounds completely unbelievable.”