Actor Alec Baldwin was rehearsing a scene on a New Mexico film set when he shot and killed a cinematographer and wounded a director in what has been described as a “tragic accident” involving an apparently loaded handgun that was being used as a prop.
And while it may not have been intentional, it certainly wasn’t an accident, says one expert who claims it was negligence — and a blatant disregard to basic firearm safety rules — that led to the fatal shooting last week.
“Loaded or unloaded, a weapon never gets pointed at another human being,” Bryan Carpenter, a Hollywood firearms consultant, told the New York Post.
“The equivalent of drinking and driving”
Carpenter said in his talk with the Post that standard safety precautions for firearms used in film and TV productions involve aiming a weapon at a safe dummy point — never at a piece of equipment or fellow cast or crew members.
“You never let the muzzle of a weapon cover something you don’t intend to destroy,” Carpenter said, as the Post reported. “All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.”
Baldwin’s knowledge of basic firearm safety aside, the question has been raised over the actor and film producer’s level of culpability for what occurred on set last week.
While no one has been charged in the incident thus far, some say a criminal indictment could be coming.
“As an executive producer you are in a position of control and you can get prosecuted criminally,” Los Angeles-based attorney Joseph Costa told the Post. “It’s the equivalent of drinking and driving, meaning someone may not have intended to cause great harm but they do.”
“Didn’t do their due diligence”
In New Mexico, involuntary manslaughter is a fourth-degree felony that can result in up to 18 months in prison, the Post reported. “All the state needs to demonstrate is that he was engaged in a lawful, but dangerous act and did not act with due caution,” former state and federal prosecutor Erlinda Johnson told the outlet.
Even if somebody else had handed Baldwin the gun, Johnson added, “it was incumbent upon [the actor], since he was handling the gun, to make sure there were no rounds.”
“Clearly someone didn’t do their due diligence,” the lawyer added.
Citing a search warrant issued by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, the Associated Press reports that the film’s assistant director, Dave Halls, is alleged to have handed the loaded firearm to Baldwin, saying it was “cold,” or unloaded. The shooting left Halyna Hutchins dead and wounded director Joel Souza, both of whom were reportedly huddled behind a camera that Baldwin was aiming at.