'Rust' Production Issued 'Highest Level of Citation' and 'Maximum Fine' After Death of Halyna Hutchins

Rust Movie Productions, LLC is being cited "for the plain indifference to the recognized hazards associated with the use of firearms on set," in part

New Mexico workplace safety regulators have issued a fine of over $135,000 to a production company behind the film Rust, on whose set Halyna Hutchins was accidentally shot and killed last fall.

Rust Movie Productions, LLC was issued the maximum possible for "plain indifference to the recognized hazards associated with the use of firearms on set that resulted in a fatality, severe injury and unsafe working conditions."

A Wednesday press release from the New Mexico Environment Department's Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (OHSB) addressed the recently released results of the Oct. 21, 2021, incident, saying that management of Rust Movie Productions, LLC "knew that firearm safety procedures were not being followed on set and demonstrated plain indifference to employee safety by failing to review work practices and take corrective action."

OHSB went on to say it was issuing the company "the highest level of citation and maximum fine allowable by state law in New Mexico": a "Willful-Serious citation" along with a civil penalty of $136,793.

"While the film industry has clear national guidelines for firearms safety, Rust Movie Productions, LLC failed to follow these guidelines or take other effective measures to protect workers," it added.

The incident occurred after actor Alec Baldwin, who was also a producer on the project, fired a prop gun that accidentally killed 42-year-old Hutchins on the New Mexico set of their Western film.

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Alec Baldwin Hayla Hutchins
Alec Baldwin; Halyna Hutchins. Rachel Luna/WireImage; Mat Hayward/Getty/AMC Networks

OHSB said that "an avoidable loss of life occurred" as a result of the incident, after Rust Movie Productions, LLC "failed to follow" what the safety bureau calls the film industry's "clear national guidelines for firearms safety."

Environment Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said in the press release that the organization's investigation into the shooting "found that this tragic incident never would have happened if Rust Movie Productions, LLC had followed national film industry standards for firearm safety."

"This is a complete failure of the employer to follow recognized national protocols that keep employees safe," Kenney added.

Stefan Friedman, a spokesperson for Rust Movie Productions, LLC, said in a statement to Reuters about the citation, "While we appreciate OSHA's time and effort in its investigation, we disagree with its findings and plan to appeal."

In an emailed statement to PEOPLE, Rust script supervisor Mamie Mitchell's attorney, Gloria Allred, said that "everyone responsible for what happened on that production which led to the tragedy should hang their heads in shame" and said that "as a producer, Alec Baldwin was part of Rust management."

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"The report by OSHA is a stinging indictment which goes way beyond mere negligence. In issuing its penalty it finds that the violations were willful," Allred added. "There are no stronger words which New Mexico OSHA could have used to describe the production company's failures."

"This Citation and the findings associated with the Citation is exactly what we were arguing all along as set forth in our complaint and amended complaint on behalf of Mamie Mitchell," Allred also said. "It is exactly what takes this out of the workers compensation arena and supports an independent legal claim for damages."

A lawyer for the movie's armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, Jason Bowles, said in a statement to Deadline Wednesday that OSHA found that his client "was not provided adequate time or resources to conduct her job effectively, despite her voiced concerns."

"Critically, OSHA also determined that production failed to call Hannah in to perform her armorer duties and inspect the firearm right before its use in the impromptu scene with Baldwin," he continued. "As we have stated before, had anyone from Production called Hannah in back into the church before the scene to consult with her, this tragedy would have been prevented."

"Hannah has also reached out to OSHA recently in an effort to provide her suggestions for changes and improvement of safety standards on sets to avoid a tragic incident in the future," Bowles added.

Alec Baldwin speaks during the 2021 RFK Ripple Of Hope Gala at New York Hilton Midtown on December 09, 2021 in New York City.
Alec Baldwin. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

In a statement posted to his Twitter account Wednesday attributed to his attorney, Baldwin, 64, mentioned a part of the report that referenced "what [safety coordinator Dave Halls] assumed were dummy rounds" in the gun Baldwin fired that killed Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza.

"We appreciate that the report exonerates Mr. Baldwin by making clear that he believed the gun held only dummy rounds," the statement reads, in part. "Additionally, the report recognizes that Mr. Baldwin's authority on the production was limited to approving script changes and creative casting."

"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," it continues. "We are confident that the individuals identified in the report will be held accountable for this tragedy."

An attorney for Hutchins' family, Brian Panish of PSBR Law, tells PEOPLE in a statement, "We are pleased that the NM OSHA report has shed some light on the workplace safety issues that plagued Rust and led to the tragic and fatal events of Oct 21, 2021."

"Our own investigation has found overwhelming evidence of recklessness and negligence on the part of the Rust production team and others," they add.

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