Recently, I noted the curious scene of actor Alec Baldwin insisting with reporters that he has been given clear legal instructions not to discuss the shooting of Halyna Hutchins at the set of the move “Rust” . . . and then make detailed statements about the shooting. Now, with an ongoing criminal investigation and various civil lawsuits expected to be filed, Baldwin has given a detailed statement to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, including a surprising claim that he never pointed the gun or pulled the trigger. That interview may be one of his most watched scenes, particularly if he is charged criminally or sued civilly. In the interview, Baldwin clearly and expressly denies ever pulling the trigger or even pointing the gun at Hutchins: “The trigger wasn’t pulled. I didn’t pull the trigger. I would never point a gun at someone and pull the trigger on them, never.”
The defense certainly could argue that, as an actor, Baldwin is unfamiliar with guns and did not “mean to pull the trigger.” However, this interview locks him into an absolute denial of pointing the gun and pulling the trigger. That is a considerable risk when the investigation is not complete and Baldwin’s counsel does not know what the forensic and eyewitness testimony will say.
Baldwin has also called for police officers to be assigned to movie set to control the use of prop guns — a remarkably dim proposal. Police departments are not designed to be prop managers for Hollywood.
Baldwin’s worlds — cinematic and actual — appear to be merging in this scandal. In The Hunt for Red October, Baldwin (as Jack Ryan) objected “I don’t react well to bullets.” This is not a particularly good reaction to the investigation into this shooting. The police have not issued a report on how this bullet found its way to the site or how it was discharged. Pending the release of such evidence, Baldwin’s decision to given an interview on the details of the incident was highly ill-advised.
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