Is Alec Baldwin in trouble?
Getting off the political beat for a moment, I got drawn into the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set for the Alec Baldwin movie “Rust.” It was a tragedy – and, by all standards, an accident. At least not intentional. But even accidents have ramifications if there is negligence or reckless behavior involved.
The most obvious possibility would be civil suits against all of those involved in the handling of the gun – and those who did the hiring. That could go all the way up to Baldwin as the producer – the man ultimately in charge. Hutchins’ father may reconsider his initial statement that he did not blame Baldwin. While it will not bring his daughter back or ease the pain, there is no reason to seek some sense of justice with a large financial settlement.
In the chain of mistakes and disregard for safe procedures, Baldwin is arguably culpable as the person who fired the shot – or shots. His mistake was pointing the gun at Hutchins and Director Joel Souza. According to those familiar with the handling of guns – even prop guns – on movie sets, one never, never points the gun at another person. When a shot is to be directed toward the camera, all personnel move away from the camera after setting it up. If this was just a dry-run rehearsal or practice – as some reports have stated – there was even less reason for pointing the gun at a person. In fact, in such cases, a phony gun is used.
Certainly, the Hutchins family has every reason to sue virtually all those involved in the production of the scene. The other person with grounds for a lawsuit is Souza. His situation is more complicated since he is both a victim and arguably a person responsible – a potential defendant in a civil suit. He could hypothetically sue himself – although that is not a real option.
Then there is the possibility of criminal charges. In this case, it would be involuntary manslaughter. That would depend on whether the death was the result of reckless disregard for the life and safety of the two victims.
The essential question is how live ammunitions got into the gun – and by whom. Related to that is why a real gun was used as a prop. Several experts in handling guns on movie sets have said that there is no reason for a real gun – and that a prop gun is constructed or modified to accept only short blanks and not full-size bullets.
It was reported that someone yelled “cold gun” before handing the weapon to Baldwin. How did it happen that it was not a “cold gun”? And why was there even live ammunition on the set? And according to recent reports, there was a “massive” amount of live ammunition on the set.
I would be surprised if there were not several civil suits filed. And I think that the possibility of a criminal case being filed against one or more of those involved in the handling of the gun – including Baldwin – is very probable. It is obvious that there was reckless disregard for safety procedures in the handling of the gun. And that may include Baldwin’s pointing the weapon at the deceased and the injured. If that violates rules and procedures, it could be viewed as reckless disregard – involuntary manslaughter..
So, there ‘tis.