Could Alec Baldwin face charges in fatal movie set shooting? Legal experts weigh in
SANTA FE, N.M. - The investigation continues into the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on set of Alec Baldwin’s new movie.
Baldwin was filming a scene for the film "Rust'' on a movie set south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Thursday when he discharged a prop gun ultimately killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.
Could Baldwin or anyone on set face charges?
RELATED: Alec Baldwin discharges prop gun on 'Rust' movie set, killing crew member, injuring director
Consumer attorney Brian Kabateck says there are a number of factors that go into play... one of them being if there was intent to cause bodily harm, the second factor being negligence.
A person could face first-degree murder charges if they had intent to cause harm. A person could face negligent homicide charges if their lack of actions or inactions caused bodily harm.
"There could be negligence charges if it turns out he knew or should have known, and those are the keywords, should have known that there was a likelihood that the weapon could discharge. One thing you understand quickly is never point a weapon at somebody, whether it’s loaded or unloaded, because you have to presume that it could cause severe bodily harm," Kabateck stated on FOX 11 News.
There are strict protocols on set for those who inspect props, so could anyone on set be held liable? A court filing suggests whoever was responsible for loading the prop gun told the assistant director that it was a cold gun... meaning it was empty. However, none of them knew the gun had live rounds.
"At the end of the day it comes down to the responsibility of the production and certainly the prop master should have checked and double-checked. And if that didn’t happen then yes there’s a potential exposure to liability. But ultimately it’s the production’s job to really check and double-check to make sure all the protocols stay in place," explained entertainment attorney Mitra Ahouraian.
She believes a wrongful death suit will be filed against the production team and/or the prop master.
RELATED: Alec Baldwin didn't know prop gun contained live round, warrant says
"If somebody failed in their responsibility, duties and caused great bodily harm then they could face criminal charges. But then that opens the door to whether or not they face criminal charges or not, civil liability is a completely different animal... it’s a much lower threshold. It isn’t beyond a reasonable doubt it is more often than not just a preponderance of evidence. It could be very likely that there are civil cases that float from this," Kabateck added.
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