As we all know by now, Massapequa-raised Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed a member of the film crew during the filming of the movie Rust, which he is producing.
The keyword in the preceding sentence is “accidental.”
There is a reason we have civil remedies, as distinguished from criminal ones. Civil court is designed to address damages caused by negligence, while the criminal courts were designed to punish intentionally illegal behavior.
There is an exception for recklessness, which more or less is a degree of gross negligence or indifference to human life. A perfect example of this would be the criminal murder conviction of the father of seven-year-old Thomas Valva. Michael Valva may not have intentionally killed his child. However, by acquiescing to forcing the child to sleep in an unheated garage in the dead of winter, hosing him down with cold water, and placing him back in the garage, his actions were so depraved that he was deserving of the criminal charges and convictions, even though actual intent could not be proven. That is a far different situation than the Alec Baldwin accidental shooting.
Full disclosure: I met Alec Baldwin a number of times when I was county executive, dining with him on at least two or three occasions. I found him to be quite charming. Perhaps he was so cordial because I was a Democrat at the time, but I believe that he would be a very engaging fellow, regardless.
Now that doesn’t mean for a second that I agree with him philosophically. I became more conservative over the years, while he drifted to a left-wing twilight zone. And he’s not afraid to be quite open in his hatred for those who do not agree with him ideologically.
But that is irrelevant as to whether or not he should be put on trial and possibly go to jail for this accidental shooting. There is no doubt that he may likely be held civilly liable as the producer of this set. He’s the one who hired an inexperienced, incompetent staff, whose duty it was to ensure gun safety on the set. Some say he cheaped out. Either way, he’s probably liable and will have to pay a hefty sum.
But that’s a far cry from saying that he was personally criminally liable for the shooting, especially when the person in charge of the firearms gave him the heads-up that the gun was safe and did not have live ammunition. It’s not Baldwin’s job to make that determination. Certainly, he was further negligent by not only pointing the gun at the victim, but then pulling the trigger. Though he says he never pulled the trigger, no one believes him, and that was a major mistake on his behalf that may come back to haunt him.