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Workplace-safety sanction finalized in Alec Baldwin shooting

ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2021
                                This aerial photo shows the movie set of “Rust” at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, N.M. Prosecutors have dropped the possibility of a sentence enhancement that could have carried a mandatory five-year sentence against Alec Baldwin in the fatal film-set shooting, according to new court filings made public.
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ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2021

This aerial photo shows the movie set of “Rust” at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, N.M. Prosecutors have dropped the possibility of a sentence enhancement that could have carried a mandatory five-year sentence against Alec Baldwin in the fatal film-set shooting, according to new court filings made public.

No one is objecting to a settlement agreement to resolve allegations of workplace safety violations in the 2021 shooting death of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin on the set of a Western movie.

After a 20-day vetting period with no objections, the agreement between New Mexico workplace safety regulators and Rust Movie Productions has been finalized along with a $100,000 fine against the company that originally bankrolled the movie “Rust.”

Matthew Maez, a spokesman for the state Environment Department and its workplace safety bureau, confirmed Tuesday the conclusion of the workplace safety probe of Rust Movie Productions under a final order. The $100,000 payment is due by April 15, he said.

Separately, Baldwin and weapons supervisor Hannah Gutierrez-Reed are confronting felony involuntary manslaughter charges in the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who died shortly after being wounded during rehearsals at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe in October 2021.

Authorities say Baldwin was pointing a pistol at Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.

Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed have pleaded not guilty, and an evidentiary hearing is scheduled in May to determine whether the case can proceed to trial. Baldwin was both a lead actor and coproducer on “Rust.” The charges carry a punishment of up to 18 months in prison.

The state’s final workplace-safety order states that Rust Movie Productions “did not furnish a place of employment free from hazards in that employees were exposed to being struck by discharged rounds or projectiles when firearms were used on the set of the motion picture production.”

Safety violations are categorized as “serious” — and not “willful-serious,” as initially alleged.

In April 2022, New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau slapped Rust Movie Productions with a maximum $136,793 fine while distributing a scathing narrative of safety failures in violation of standard industry protocols, including testimony that production managers took limited or no action to address two misfires on set before the fatal shooting.

The bureau also documented gun-safety complaints from crew members that went unheeded and said weapons specialists were not allowed to make decisions about additional safety training.

Rust Movie Productions previously announced that filming would resume this year on “Rust” at a ranch in Montana, with Hutchins’ widower, Matthew Hutchins, serving as the film’s new executive producer.

In court proceedings, prosecutors say assistant director David Halls, who oversaw safety on the set, has signed an agreement to plead guilty in the negligent use of a deadly weapon. A judge is scheduled to consider approval of the plea agreement next week.

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