A district attorney in New Mexico, where actor Alec Baldwin shot two people, killing one, says the shooting could result in criminal charges.
District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies told The New York Times that authorities “haven’t ruled out anything” in the case.
“Everything at this point, including criminal charges, is on the table,” Carmack-Altwies told the Times.
In recent days, the mood has been shifting on Baldwin, who last week shot dead a cinematographer during a film shoot in Sante Fe, New Mexico, in a gun mishap. After an outpouring of sympathy for the actor, some are now saying that he bears some culpability — with one commentator saying the on-set killing could even constitute a “criminal killing.”
“The death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins has also been painted as Alec Baldwin’s tragedy,” the New York Post reported in a Tuesday piece headlined, “There’s no denying Alec Baldwin’s role in on-set shooting tragedy.”
“Really, it’s not. In fact, Alec Baldwin is likely to be held, at least in part, responsible. ‘If you’re capable of memorizing 120 pages of dialogue, you can memorize four lines of gun safety,’ special effects and firearms expert Steve Wolf tells The Post. ‘If that scene required him to put the gun to his head and pull the trigger, I’m sure he would have taken a look inside the gun. Wouldn’t you?’”
Another piece by the Post cited Joseph Costa, an attorney with Costa Law in Los Angeles, saying that there could be repercussions for Baldwin, the film’s executive producer, which could include negligent manslaughter charges. “As an executive producer, you are in a position of control and you can get prosecuted criminally,” he told the paper. “It’s the equivalent of drinking and driving, meaning someone may not have intended to cause great harm but they do.”
Famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz went further, saying the incident likely constitutes something “criminal.”
Dershowitz wrote in The Hill that there are “two things” that seem clear: “Guidelines seem not to have been followed in this case, and the existing guidelines seem insufficient to prevent accidents like this.”
“It is likely, therefore, that the killing of Halyna Hutchins could constitute a homicide — that is, a criminal killing,” he said. “The remaining questions are who might be criminally responsible for the killing and what degree of homicide fits the evidence?”
“It seems clear that Alec Baldwin was not aware that he was firing a gun capable of expelling a lethal projectile,” Dershowitz wrote. “But his role reportedly was not limited to passively being an actor; he may have had some responsibility as one of several producers of the film. The nature of the role of producers varies from film to film, and it is unlikely that Baldwin’s role included responsibility for set safety. But some may think that it was not simply enough for him to accept the word of an assistant director about the gun’s safety, that he perhaps should have independently inspected the gun before firing it. It is unlikely, however, that such an omission would result in criminal responsibility.”
Piers Morgan let fly with a lengthy headline in the Daily Mail that said: “The more we learn about Alec Baldwin’s deadly shooting ‘accident’, the more culpable he looks for being executive producer of a chaotic, dangerous sh*t-show run by amateurish cowboys that made the tragedy an accident waiting to happen.”
In conclusion, Morgan said of Baldwin: “I don’t doubt the sincerity of his sadness at the shooting, nor that he had no idea the gun he fired was loaded. But what I do now doubt is Alec Baldwin’s depiction of it as a ‘tragic accident.’ Given what we have discovered about the circumstances leading up to the moment he pulled the trigger, this was an accident waiting to happen.”