Hollywood was rocked by the recent news that a cinematographer was killed and a director was hurt when legendary actor Alec Baldwin fired what he thought were blanks from a gun while filming a movie.
So far, Baldwin is cooperating with an investigation by local authorities in Santa Fe County, New Mexico, the site of the film set. The district attorney is refusing to rule out charges against the actor or anyone else.
Prosecutor Mary Carmack-Altwies said the investigation is focusing on the type of bullet that was in the gun at the time of the shooting. “There were an enormous amount of bullets on this set, and we need to find out what kinds they were,” she said.
According to a search warrant affidavit, the film’s crew thought the gun contained no live rounds at the time the assistant director handed it to Baldwin. The actor was practicing drawing the gun and pointing it at the camera when it discharged, killing cinematographer Halayna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said the FBI is conducting a ballistics investigation on the bullet.
What Charges Are Possible?
Authorities are saying that any investigation will likely take weeks to months. So for now, any possible criminal charges, and who will face them, are pure speculation.
If someone were to face criminal charges, involuntary manslaughter could be a potential charge if an investigation uncovers that people were acting negligently but not maliciously. That is what happened when a 1982 accident on the set of a “Twilight Zone” movie killed three. In that case, the director and four others were all acquitted.
As for who will face any charges, the press is mostly focusing on Baldwin because he is the celebrity. It is important to note that Baldwin the actor may not face any charges, but as the film’s producer, he is ultimately in charge of what happens on set.
Additionally, the assistant director who handed the gun to Baldwin was previously fired from a film production when someone was accidentally shot on set. He allegedly told police in the current case that he didn’t check every gun thoroughly. The crew member in charge of weapons on set also told investigators that she found no live ammunition.
A Lawsuit Is Likely
Mendoza said it was apparent that there was a “complacent” attitude toward firearm safety on the set. The L.A. Times reported that several crewmembers complained about gun safety on set — including a prior accidental gun discharge by Baldwin’s stunt double — and walked off the set to protest working conditions before the shooting.
While authorities may ultimately file no criminal charges, Hutchins’ family is likely already considering a wrongful death lawsuit over any potential negligence. A lawsuit would likely target Baldwin, the other producers of the film, and any studios or production companies involved. That is what happened in the accidental on-set shooting of actor Brandon Lee for the film “The Crow.”
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