First lawsuit filed in deadly shooting on New Mexico film set

New Mexico News

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The first lawsuit was filed Wednesday related to the deadly shooting on the New Mexico set of “Rust”, in what could be the first of many. Serge Svetnoy was right next to cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and says he held her as she was dying. He says he’s filing suit so an incident like this never happens on a film set again.

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“He held her in his arms, blood on his hands while she laid dying on the set, waiting for help,” said Gary Dordick, an attorney representing Svetnoy. “Serge Svetnoy knows better than anyone that that senseless tragedy could have and should have been avoided.”

It’s one of the last memories Svetnoy had of his friend Hutchins before she died on the Santa Fe set of “Rust” last month. Svetnoy, the film’s chief lighting technician, says he was so close, one of the bullet fragments hit him in the face. The two had worked on nine films together over the last few years.

“I still cannot believe that she’s not longer with us,” said Svetnoy, during a press conference. Now, he’s suing the production company and a number of those involved in the production, including armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed who was in charge of the weapons on set, and producer and actor Alec Baldwin, who fired the shot that killed Hutchins.

“These producers and production companies, mega-millionaires, need to put the safety of people before profits,” said Dordick. “This lawsuit is to make these kinds of unsafe conditions that have happened too much on movie sets, stop now.”

Dordick says Baldwin’s actions that day were reckless, no matter who was responsible for the set’s weapons. However, he says it was not the first issue Svetnoy saw on set.

“Alec Baldwin was sued for punitive damages because when a gun, a real gun was given to him on the set, he assumed it was safe. He took a gun, loaded with a bullet, pointed it at human beings and pulled the trigger and shot the bullet that killed people and seriously injured others. That conduct is reckless,” said Dordick. “He did not see first-hand recreational shooting but he saw first-hand, weapons being left laying around, unattended, in the dirt, and left unsupervised.”

Just days after the shooting, Baldwin praised the film’s crew. “We were a very well-oiled crew shooting a film together and this horrible event happened,” Baldwin told reporters.

Though the lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles where many of the defendants live, attorneys say they could seek jurisdiction here in New Mexico. A dollar amount was not listed in the lawsuit and attorneys say it’s not about money — it’s to put pressure on producers to prioritize safety over profits.

“I did not blame and still do not blame just a person,” said Svetnoy. “Especially, no one person.”

Wednesday evening, Albuquerque-based attorney Jason Bowles, representing the set’s armorer, Gutierrez-Reed, released a statement, reiterating their claim on Wednesday that the shooting was sabotage and Gutierrez-Reed is being framed. Also, the Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies sat down with Good Morning America, saying there is no proof of sabotage. KRQE News 13 reached out to her office for comment but did not hear back.

“Yesterday, we met with the Santa Fe County Deputy Sheriffs and Hannah continued to cooperate and provided a full interview. Information is coming out that needs to be fully investigated and considered by the District Attorney. We eagerly await the FBI’s investigation as well and 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. We believe that the scene was tampered with as well before the police arrived. The truth finding process demands that the District Attorney and FBI run down all of the evidence, including the nature of those live rounds. This morning we offered to share additional, critical information with the Sheriff’s Office and are awaiting their response on the sharing of information.”

Jason Bowles, attorney for Hannah Gutierrez-Reed

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