Alec Baldwin spoke with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos for the first time about Oct. 21’s shooting at the set of Rust’.
Legal experts agree that Alec Baldwin should not have spoken out in his televised interview.
The actor had his first sit down since Oct. 21’s shooting of “Rust” in New Mexico. According to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, the 63-year old actor said that he didn’t pull the trigger on the prop gun he was holding at the time it went off on a New Mexico film sets. It killed cinematographer Halyna Houtchins.
Authorities claim Baldwin was informed the gun was safe for him to use, but they continue to investigate how a live cartridge ended up in the weapon.
Rachel Fiset, managing partner at Los Angeles-based Zweiback and Coleman told Fox News that Baldwin felt it necessary to speak out after the tragedy in a public forum, but his comments regarding the ongoing investigation could be used against him.
She said that Alec Baldwin was clearly distraught by the accidental death of Ms. Hutchins. He likely feels compelled by the tragedy to speak out publicly, and he can be sympathetic when it comes to the trauma he is going through. He wants to shift the blame for this tragedy from himself by directing the narrative. It is not a good idea, however, to speak publically during active investigations. This case is no exception.”
Fiset stated that “any statements made during an investigation on television could result in unintended admittances that could be used against him later on at trial or could prejudice him against the prosecutor,” Fiset said. Fiset stated that if statements about facts are disproved it could affect his credibility at trial or with law enforcement. If it is found that he was responsible for setting safety as a major film producer, his admissions that someone is to blame could be used against him in a criminal or civil case.
Molly Mauck, a litigator at the New York City-based law company Romano Law, stated that she felt the interview was risky and could do more harm than good.
She explained that Alec Baldwin wants to share his view of events with the media and control the story surrounding Halyna’s tragic death. There is a risk of speaking before all facts have been established or investigations are completed. In any civil or criminal case arising from this incident, any statements made by Mr. Baldwin could be used against him later. Any variations in Baldwin’s account of the incident may be used later to attack his credibility in court.
Baldwin stated that he didn’t pull the trigger during the interview. Baldwin said that he would never point a gun at someone and pull the trigger. Never.”
Baldwin wept as he spoke of Hutchins, 42. Joel Souza, the director of the film, was also hurt.
The star answered a question about how a live bullet ended up on the set. Someone put a live round in a gun that was not supposed to be there.
The interview was called “a mistake” by Neama Rahmani (ex-assistant U.S. Attorney), president and co-founder, Los Angeles-based West Coast Trial Lawyers.
Baldwin claims he didn’t pull the trigger but that doesn’t exempt him from civil or potential criminal liability,” he said. Baldwin’s finger shouldn’t have been near the trigger or the hammer, even though we believe that the gun was misfired. Baldwin should never point a firearm at any other person, even though Halyna Hutchins, his cinematographer, told him to. He also believed the gun wasn’t loaded with blanks.
He said that Baldwin’s interview was a mistake from a legal standpoint. His statements could and would be used against him in civil lawsuits or any criminal prosecution. Baldwin’s lawyers can’t use Baldwin’s interview as a way to help him, since his answers are hearsay. The interview was at best a calculated public relations strategy that could backfire.”
Investigators described “some complacency” in the way weapons were handled on “Rust”. They claim it is too early to know if charges will be brought against the Rust set, but there are independent civil lawsuits regarding liability for the fatal shooting.
Miguel Custodio from Los Angeles, a personal injury lawyer, was curious if Baldwin’s interview indicated that there will be new updates soon from the investigation and Baldwin’s team wants to move ahead.
He said that Baldwin had made a very risky decision by agreeing to the interview. This is especially so because he takes an absolute position about how the gun was fired.” “The legal strategy behind this highly-publicized broadcast was probably done with a lot thought. This includes what the possible ramifications might be and how it frames the debate. The timing of this interview leads to me to believe that we will soon hear the results of the investigation. But not too far before it starts to dissolve any empathy for Baldwin.”
Los Angeles Criminal Appeals Attorney Matthew Barhoma affirmed that Baldwin is “saving face” while “fighting for the future.”
He said, “Whoever is first to tell the story can control it the most. Here you see Baldwin trying to distance himself.” “… “… He will be jointly and severally responsible and could be held responsible for the cost. Baldwin could be held liable for the entire amount if the judge finds Baldwin less liable than the other defendants. The production’s insurance policy coverage will also play a role.
Baldwin was not immune to backlash from social media. However, Lara Yeretsian , a veteran Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer who represented Scott Peterson and Michael Jackson, said that Baldwin came across as genuine, honest, and natural.
She pointed out that he did not appear to hide anything or hold back. He answered all the difficult questions, even the most difficult question about why he hadn’t checked the gun. He did a lot of things during this interview that I felt really helped me. He gave solid answers to tough questions and was able to explain them. He spoke highly of Halyna Hutchins the deceased. He was appropriately emotional but not too much. And he expressed a desire for law enforcement to find out how the bullet got on the set.
Hutchins, who was praised by her peers as a talented filmmaker, is survived her husband and their son.