Legal experts say Alec Baldwin likely won't face murder or manslaughter charges in prop-firearm shooting that left a cinematographer dead
Legal experts told insiders that Alec Baldwin is unlikely to be charged with the prop shooting on the set of Rust. Halyna Hutchins / Instagram; Jim Spellman / Getty Images
Legal experts said Alec Baldwin is unlikely to face criminal charges while filming Rust.
Baldwin fired a prop gun filled with live ammunition, killing cameraman Halyna Hutchins.
Experts believed Baldwin would not be charged if he did not know the gun contained live ammunition.
Legal experts told Insiders that Alec Baldwin is unlikely to face prosecution after firing a prop gun on the set of Rust on Thursday that killed the film's cameraman and injured the director.
Halyna Hutchins, the camerawoman for the film, died on-set at the University of New Mexico hospital on Thursday after the incident.
Arthur L. Aidala, a managing partner at New York criminal defense firm Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins, said he didn't think Baldwin would be charged if the actor didn't know the prop gun contained live ammunition.
"Although we absolutely know who owned the gun, who fired the gun and caused a person's death, it would fall under the excusable homicide law," Aidala said.
This is because New Mexico law contains a provision called "excusable murder," which means that it is not a crime to "accidentally or misfortune" someone by any lawful act, by lawful means, with common and common caution and without it unlawful intention to kill. "
Manslaughter charges possible, but unlikely
Neama Rahmani, the president and co-founder of West Coast Trial Lawyers, a personal injury firm, said the fact that the property masters union said the gun was loaded with live ammunition opened up the possibility of manslaughter.
But he added that prosecutors would have to prove that Baldwin or the prop master knew the gun was loaded with a live cartridge.
It's unclear how the live lap ended up in the gun, though it's not the first time a propeller pistol accident has resulted in fatality.
In 1993, part of a live round was caught in a prop gun, killing actor Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, on the set of "The Crow". In this case, the prosecutor ruled that the death from negligence was an accident.
Should a similar situation arise here, Baldwin would not be charged, Rahmani said.
Ralph Cilento, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, agreed. He said police needed to prove that Baldwin intended to harm someone when he fired the gun and that his intent to cause harm resulted in someone's death.
"The lowest culpable state of mind in manslaughter is intentional assault but accidental death," said Cilento.
Aidala said, "The absolute worst-case scenario for Mr. Baldwin is that a witness would come out and say, 'Yeah, we told him it was loaded with live ammunition because we had a hole in it in that particular scene Wall. So it was a real bullet. '"
While Aidala said he "doesn't see this happening," he said in the case, Baldwin could be charged with "depraved indifference murder," which "is not the intent to kill anyone but to commit an act any of which reasonable person would know they would ". cause someone else's death. "
Charges can still be brought if the public prosecutor can prove that the firearm was surrendered out of “willful ignorance” or “willful indifference”.
Rahmani said an example of willful indifference is a person who agrees to move a suitcase across the border without checking what's inside. If there is drugs in that suitcase, that person can still be charged for not even bothering to look.
But Rahmani said this type of law enforcement was rare.
Simple negligence would not lead to criminal charges but could lead to civil lawsuits, Rahmani said.
Imran Ansari, who heads civil litigation at Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins, said there was a "very high probability" that the case would lead to lawsuits from the victim's family and the injured director.
These complaints "could focus on Mr. Baldwin himself if he was unsafe or negligent about the prop weapon" and they could "focus on the prop master if he somehow failed to secure the weapon or kept it in proper condition". . "
Such lawsuits could also extend to the "prop weapon manufacturer or the manufacturer of the blanks used if it could be determined that there was an error in the manufacture of the weapon or blanks," Ansari said.
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