By Mike Bedigan, PA Los Angeles Correspondent
The settlement between Alec Baldwin, the Rust movie production company and the family of Halyna Hutchins will have “no impact” on the ongoing criminal investigation into the incident, the Santa Fe District Attorney has said.
A spokesperson for the DA’s office said charges would still be brought if they were warranted by the “facts and evidence” in the case.
The undisclosed settlement with the killed cinematographer’s estate – regarding the civil lawsuit – was announced on Wednesday.
It came after lawyers representing Ms Hutchins’ husband Matthew and their son Andros sued the Hollywood star and the film’s other producers for wrongful death in February.
Ms Hutchins was killed on the set of the movie in October 2021 after a prop gun Baldwin was holding was discharged.
Director Joel Souza was also wounded in the shooting on the Bonanza Creek Ranch set near Santa Fe.
In a statement shared with the PA news agency, Heather Brewer, spokesperson for the Office of the First Judicial District Attorney, reiterated that “no one is above the law”.
“The proposed settlement announced today in Matthew Hutchins’ wrongful death case against Rust movie producers, including Alec Baldwin, in the death of Halyna Hutchins will have no impact on District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altweis’ ongoing investigation or her ultimate decision whether to file criminal charges in the case,” the statement read.
“While civil suits are settled privately and often involve financial awards, criminal cases deal only in facts.
“If the facts and evidence warrant criminal charges under New Mexico law then charges will be brought.
“No one is above the law.”
Rust will resume filming in January 2023, with Matthew Hutchins serving as executive producer.
Mr Hutchins said in a statement: “We have reached a settlement, subject to court approval, for our wrongful death case against the producers of Rust, including Alec Baldwin and Rust Movie Productions, LLC.
“As part of that settlement, our case will be dismissed. The filming of Rust, which I will now executive produce, will resume with all the original principal players on board in January 2023.
“I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr Baldwin).
“All of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident. I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna’s final work.”
In his own statement Souza praised Ms Hutchins as “exceedingly talented, kind, creative, and a source of incredible positive energy” describing the settlement as “bittersweet”.
“I only wish the world had gotten to know her under different circumstances, as it surely would have through her amazing work,” he said.
“In my own attempts to heal, any decision to return to finish directing the film could only make sense for me if it was done with the involvement of Matt and the Hutchins family.”
Baldwin thanked all those who “contributed to the resolution of this tragic and painful situation”.
“Throughout this difficult process, everyone has maintained the specific desire to do what is best for Halyna’s son,” he said.
The developments come after a report into the incident found the film’s production company “knew that firearm safety procedures were not being followed on set” and “demonstrated plain indifference to employee safety”.
Rust Movie Productions was fined $136,793 (€138,005), the maximum allowable by state law in New Mexico, following a six-month investigation by the state’s environment department.
As well as the ongoing DA investigation, Baldwin and the Rust producers also face a case brought by script supervisor Mamie Mitchell.
However, a Los Angeles judge recently ruled they would not have to face its central claims of assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.