The show business world was in shock last week following an accidental – yet fatal – shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin film Rust, and as it becomes clear that the actor may face serious legal jeopardy in both the criminal and civil realms, the irony of his own past statements concerning guns is coming back to haunt him.
According to reports, Baldwin was in the midst of rehearsing a scene from the film on which he was serving as executive producer, when the prop gun he was holding accidentally discharged, killing photography director Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza, as Fox News noted.
While investigation of the incident, which took place in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is still ongoing, speculation is rampant about the possible legal consequences awaiting Baldwin, a longtime liberal and critic of Second Amendment supporters, and whether he could even face criminal charges as a result of Hutchins’ death.
Fox News interviewed attorney Andrew Stoltmann, who is of the opinion that Baldwin could “absolutely” be charged with a crime, adding, “He needs to start thinking like a potential defendant instead of just somebody who made a tragic mistake. There are crimes that cover this sort of situation depending on his level of culpability.”
“I’m certainly not saying he’s going to be charged, but what I am saying is anytime somebody shoots another human being – even on accident, even in self-defense – the police and eventually prosecutors look very, very carefully at what happened,” opined Stoltmann.
Los Angeles attorney Joseph Costa told the New York Post this weekend that a charge of negligent manslaughter against Baldwin is certainly a possibility, explaining, “As an executive producer, you are in a position of control and you can get prosecuted criminally. It’s the equivalent of drinking and driving, meaning someone may not have intended to cause great harm but they do.”
Erlinda Johnson, a criminal attorney and former prosecutor from New Mexico added that involuntary manslaughter charge could potentially be lodged against the star, stating, “All the state needs to demonstrate is that he was engaged in a lawful, but dangerous act and did not act with due caution,” adding that a conviction on this fourth-degree felony could bring up to 18 months imprisonment.
Though many of Baldwin’s colleagues on the coasts are lamenting the legal nightmare that surely awaits him over what was arguably a tragic accident, conservative commentator Mike Cernovich took to Twitter on Friday to remind everyone that “When Dick Cheney accidentally shot someone, Hollywood did comedy sketches…Alec Baldwin even blogged about how he hoped Cheney would be arrested,” referencing a 2006 hunting accident in which the then-vice president involved.
Even if Baldwin does not suffer the same fate he wished upon Cheney, there is little doubt that he faces a harrowing legal future, even if only on the civil side, with Los Angeles defense attorney assuring the Post, “Everyone will be sued,” and while that will not erase the devastating loss sustained by Hutchins’ family, perhaps it will help provide at least some sense of justice and accountability.