I’ll grant that Trumpers Jeanine Pirro and Gregg Jarrett were surprisingly restrained in their discussion about the fatal shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin’s Rust movie, but they couldn’t seem to help focusing on all the ways liberal Trump-satirist Baldwin could be in big trouble.
There’s still much we don’t know about the horrible event. But most of the information that has come out so far points to negligence on the part of an inexperienced armorer (the person in charge of the gun) and possibly the assistant director and other crew members.
The New York Times reported that there had been at least two accidental gun discharges on the set before the accidental shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and also wounded director Joel Souza. Also, several workers quit over working conditions and unpaid work just hours before the awful event.
Sources told The Los Angeles Times that standard safety protocols, including gun inspections, were not strictly followed and that at least one camera operator had complained to a production manager about gun safety on the set.
The LA Times also has details of the shooting:
[Baldwin] was preparing to film a scene in which he pulls a gun out of a holster, according to a source close to the production. Crew members had already shouted “cold gun” on the set. The filmmaking team was lining up its camera angles and had yet to retreat to the video village, an on-set area where the crew gathers to watch filming from a distance via a monitor.
Instead, the B-camera operator was on a dolly with a monitor, checking out the potential shots. Hutchins was also looking at the monitor from over the operator’s shoulder, as was the movie’s director, Joel Souza, who was crouching just behind her.
Baldwin removed the gun from its holster once without incident, but the second time he did so, ammunition flew toward the trio around the monitor. The projectile whizzed by the camera operator but penetrated Hutchins near her shoulder, then continued through to Souza. Hutchins immediately fell to the ground as crew members applied pressure to her wound in an attempt to stop the bleeding.
In other words, there’s no evidence Baldwin was acting recklessly. But that didn’t stop Fox News contributor Jarrett from speculating otherwise. First, he said there’s an “incredibly strong case” for an almost certain civil suit “alleging wrongful death arising out of negligence.” Since Baldwin is one of the movie’s producers, he’ll almost certainly be one of the defendants, Jarrett added.
“The real question here is what about criminal culpability,” Jarrett continued.
If Baldwin really had no idea there was a “live round bullet in the gun then he most certainly would not be charged with murder," Jarrett said. "But there are other potential, lesser charges.” He meant that Baldwin could be charged with involuntary manslaughter for “grossly negligent conduct or reckless conduct resulting in death” and/or to “recklessly fail to protect the health and safety of your coworkers.” At least Jarrett kept his voice neutral, not hopeful.
Then, after Jarrett and host Pirro discussed the shocking inexperience and/or incompetence of the 24 year-old armorer, the person responsible for the gun on the set, Jarrett circled back to Baldwin. There was no discussion about the role of the assistant director who, The Daily Beast reported, other crew members think is also culpable.
Jarrett said, “Look, somebody who’s a neophyte on the set in charge of a dangerous instrumentality known as a gun and if it’s true that this was a live bullet round and she somehow mistakenly thought that it was a blank … If she didn’t know the difference and Alec Baldwin hired an individual who doesn’t know the difference, they could both be criminally culpable.”
Pirro baselessly suggested that Baldwin had mishandled the gun and was therefore partially responsible. Jarrett, not surprisingly, approved.
PIRRO: You’ve got an inexperienced 24 year-old armorer who is responsible for that gun safety and you and I both know – first of all how does a bullet, a real bullet actually get into a prop gun or were they using a real gun, without a blank cartridge, and then the issue becomes, how did he point the gun at someone? You know that on set, you’re taught not to point a gun at someone?
JARRETT: Yeah the standard safety protocol is, using a blank with a real gun you must be at least 20 feet away. So you know they’re going to be looking at that.
Apparently, neither Jarrett nor Pirro looked at the LA Times which, as I noted above, did not indicate that Baldwin was aiming the gun at anybody when it went off.
Jarrett then noted the two prior accidental gun discharges on the set and – you guessed it - brought it back to criminal charges for Baldwin: “So that puts Alec Baldwin and everybody else associated with this production, not the least of which is the armorer, on notice that there is a weapon safety issue here. Again, that would lead to criminal culpability,” Jarrett said.
Before closing, Jarrett theorized that someone had deliberately sabotaged the gun: “Because there was labor unrest, what if a disgruntled former employee slipped onto the set and swapped out a blank for a real bullet to harm somebody there? That would be murder,” he said.
To her credit, Pirro said, “I get that, Gregg, but at the same time, [the armorer’s] job is to make sure that that doesn’t happen.”
You can watch it below, from the October 23, 2021 Justice with Judge Jeanine.
I agree with Kevin that it should be highly unlikely that Alex Baldwin will be held responsible since he was at the end of what was supposed to be a solid chain of custody. Most actors wouldn’t actually know how to verify that a gun wasn’t dangerous. And why on earth would one even think to second-guess the expertise of the armorer anyway? Won’t stop the Foxies from wanting that, though.
The reality is far different.
First, he’s unlikely to be arrested or prosecuted – he was relying on the AD who handed him the prop gun, who told him it was a “cold weapon”. That immediately provides enough of a “shadow of a doubt” that there wouldn’t be much point in a prosecution, and would frankly only appeal to a Pence appointee.
Next, while he was a producer on the film, it is even more unlikely that he would be prosecuted simply for being a producer of a show where this kind of accident happened. Again, that’s a huge reach.
In civil litigation, he and his company are certain to be sued for the wrongful death of Halyna Hutchins. And Baldwin is certain to settle out of that litigation faster than anyone else, on reasonable terms with the family.
And in personal life, he is likely to bear the burden of having been the one with the prop gun in his hands, and having not checked it before holstering it. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
But all the while, we can guarantee that angry Right Wingers will be gloating themselves silly. Because for them, this is sweet revenge against a liberal nuisance who enjoyed doing his Trump impression throughout the single term of Mike Pence as our acting president.