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New Mexico fines 'Rust' production for cinematographer's shooting death

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Halyna Hutchins, director of photography on "Rust," was killed when actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on set. File Photo by <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CGyYB3yBkdW/" target="_blank">Halyna Hutchins/Instagram</a>
Halyna Hutchins, director of photography on "Rust," was killed when actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on set. File Photo by Halyna Hutchins/Instagram

April 20 (UPI) -- New Mexico's occupational safety agency fined the production company behind the film Rust nearly $137,000 for willful gun safety failures that led to Alec Baldwin fatally shooting cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October.

The fine comes as the Occupational Health and Safety Bureau released a report on its investigation into the accidental shooting with a prop gun on set in Santa Fe.

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"The report concludes that Rust Movie Productions, LLC management 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," the New Mexico Environment Department said in a release accompanying the report.

The bureau issued a "willful-serious" citation to the production company. The $136,793 civil penalty was the largest fine allowable by state law for this particular citation.

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The bureau said industry guidelines -- which the production company says it followed -- indicate that live ammunition never be brought onto a studio lot or stage and that workers avoid pointing firearms at anyone.

"Our investigation found that this tragic incident never would have happened if Rust Movie Productions, LLC had followed national film industry standards for firearm safety," said Environment Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. "This is a complete failure of the employer to follow recognized national protocols that keep employees safe."

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The family of Hutchins, who was 42 when she died, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in February against Baldwin, who was the western film's lead actor and producer. The family said Baldwin and others in the film were reckless, ignoring safety protocols and complaints about danger on set to cut costs on production.

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The same bullet that killed Hutchins also struck camera operator Joel Souza in the shoulder.

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