Hollywood movies frequently feature gunfights and shootings that we see as happening in a land of make believe. But recently, we were reminded that these scenes are filmed in real life and with real guns.
Halyna Hutchins was on the set of the movie “Rust” when a prop gun discharged and shot and killed her.
What went wrong, and what potential charges could the shooter, well-known actor Alec Baldwin, face for being the person who shot the “prop” gun?
What Do We Know About the Shooting?
In a desert outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, crew gathered on set to film scenes for the movie “Rust.” Baldwin, who is also a producer for the movie, was getting ready to film a scene when assistant director Dave Hall took one of three guns from a cart and handed it to him. Hall reportedly told Baldwin the gun was “cold,” meaning it was safe to discharge. But, it wasn’t.
Baldwin took the gun and moved to practice a cross-draw firing technique he would need for the scene. He went through the movement, pointing the gun at the camera, and it went off.
The gun discharged a live round and hit Hutchins, the movie’s cinematographer and Joel Souza, the movie’s director. Hutchins died from the injury.
While we don’t know all of the details of why there was a live round in a prop gun on a movie set, we do know that Baldwin was the one holding the gun when it went off. Does that make him responsible for the tragic incident?
Could Baldwin Be Criminally Charged?
The shooting occurred in Santa Fe so it will be investigated and ruled by New Mexico laws.
If the story is true that Baldwin had no reason to believe the gun was dangerous and he was acting within reason, it is likely that he won’t face criminal charges.
If the story evolves to show that Baldwin was acting recklessly with the gun, it could change things. If it can be proven that Baldwin was handling the gun irresponsibly, he could be charged with criminal negligence.
Criminal negligence, which is also referred to as culpable negligence, is defined in Florida Statute 784.05 as someone who, “through culpable negligence, inflicts actual personal injury.”
It is unlikely that Baldwin will face criminal negligence in New Mexico if the current details of the case remain consistent. But, that doesn’t mean Baldwin will get out of this without legal challenges.
Could Baldwin (and Others) Be Sued in Civil Court?
While it is currently unlikely that Baldwin will face criminal charges, the situation may still lead him and others associated with the movie to court. There is some probability that the case could end up in civil court if the family of Hutchins sues for wrongful death.
Baldwin was the one who pulled the trigger. But, that isn’t the only reason he could find himself in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Baldwin is one of the movie’s producers. Employers have a responsibility to keep their employees safe. It is their responsibility to prevent workplace accidents. In this situation, the company responsible for the production and the people in charge could potentially face civil lawsuits.
At this time, Baldwin is fully cooperating with authorities as they investigate this terrible tragedy. It remains to be seen if details will show that Baldwin or others on the set engaged in such negligence that they will face criminal courts, civil courts, or both.
Get Expert Legal Advice For Difficult Cases
The lines in many legal cases are blurry. In this case, it is unlikely that Baldwin will be arrested for a crime, but it is likely that he is already consulting with a criminal defense attorney to get prepared for all potential scenarios. On the other side of the case, it is likely that the family of Hutchins is talking with a personal injury attorney to see if they have the merits to bring forth a wrongful death case.
Based on the story we know so far, this is a terrible accident that no one intended to happen. But, that doesn’t mean there won’t be legal ramifications.
If you find yourself in a legal situation and you don’t know what to expect, it’s important to have a trusted lawyer by your side who can help you navigate your situation and protect your rights. If you are in legal need, TJ Grimaldi is here to help. Schedule your free call with TJ to see how he can assist you on your case. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.