Once again, Alec Baldwin’s lawyer is claiming the trove of evidence released by the sheriff’s department exonerates his client. I don’t see that in any of the evidence. So, this strikes me as typical public posturing by the actor and his attorney.
None of it changes the underlying facts as they apply to the law. Every person who handles a dangerous weapon on a film set, including the actor, has an affirmative duty of due care to inspect the gun before brandishing it. There is no indication that Baldwin did this.
The standard in the industry is spelled out in the union rules enacted by Actor’s Equity. The gun must be checked before it’s handed to the actor. But the actor cannot just rely on that other person’s word. Baldwin had a separate and independent duty to double-check the firearm himself. That is, open it up, inspect the barrel and the cylinder and determine that there’s no live round in it.
One can reasonably argue that the breach of that duty to ensure the safety of others around him led to the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. The question then becomes this: does that failure rise to the level of recklessness or gross negligence which constitutes involuntary manslaughter under New Mexico law? Only the district attorney can answer that question.
The recent investigation by the Occupational Health & Safety Bureau does not help Baldwin. It portrays an out-of-control low-budget movie set where two gun mishaps occurred prior to the fatal shooting. Everyone knew it. They were on notice that there was a serious problem with weapons. That means Baldwin and others had a heightened duty to make sure that the firearm used on set had no live rounds in it. The OHSB fined the production the maximum amount —roughly $140,000 for safety violations.
Baldwin keeps insisting that the gun went off on its own. That defense is legally irrelevant. If the firearm contained a blank it wouldn’t matter whether it misfired. But instead, then contained a live round. If Baldwin had checked the weapon, he would have discovered the lethal round. Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. This was a preventable tragedy.