Santa Fe DA: Nobody "clear" of charges in Baldwin shooting

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

When Alec Baldwin gave his tearful “don’t look at me” interview on ABC this week, he made any number of comments that seemed odd for a person who is still part of an investigation into the death of Halyna Hutchins. Perhaps one of the strangest, however, came when he told George Stephanopoulos that he had heard from “people in the know” that he was “highly unlikely” to face criminal charges over the shooting. That interview clearly caught the attention of Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, who is in charge of investigating the shooting. She took the rather unusual step of giving a statement to the press on the subject, informing them that despite anything that Baldwin thinks he may know, neither the actor nor anyone else who was on the set is clear of potential criminal charges. And that question will not be answered until the full investigation is complete. While she didn’t say the words herself, other sources close to the DA’s office suggest that Baldwin is potentially causing problems for himself. (Daily Mail)

The Santa Fe District Attorney investigating the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Alec Baldwin’s Western movie Rust said neither the actor nor anyone else who was on set is clear of potential criminal charges until the probe concludes.

DA Mary Carmack-Altwies appeared to be responding to Baldwin’s claim during his 90-minute interview with ABC this week that he was unlikely to face any charges and that he supposedly never pulled the trigger on the gun that went off in his hands, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.

In a statement released on Friday, Carmack-Altwies maintained that ‘certain individuals may be criminally culpable for his/her actions and/or inactions on the set of Rust.’

Carmack-Altwies was tossing around a number of phrases that should have a chilling effect on Baldwin and anyone else who was in the chain of possession of the revolver and the ammunition that day. Those phrases included “prosecutorial discretion” and “probable cause.” She went on to state that everyone involved with the handling of firearms and ammunition on the set “had a duty to behave in a manner such that the safety of others was protected.”

So were her comments really directed at Alec Baldwin? A source with the DA’s office said that “investigators with the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office were unhappy with Baldwin’s interview on ABC.”

‘Baldwin is testing the department’s patience and becoming a distraction to the ongoing investigation,’ the source said.

It did seem to me as if Baldwin was trying to build a defense case for himself by doing that interview. It’s something that other commentators have noticed as well. In particular, I took notice of Baldwin’s claim that he never pulled the trigger, which would be a great soundbite for a defense attorney. But that claim is quite implausible. If you haven’t already read Ed Morrissey’s article about the interview where Stephen Gutowski explains how a revolver of that type actually works, you should go take a look. The number of things that would have had to have gone wrong for that firearm to discharge without Baldwin’s finger being inside the trigger guard render the claim very nearly as much of a work of fiction as the script they were supposedly following.

I would also like to point out the absurd way that Baldwin claimed to not feel any guilt about the death of Halyna Hutchins. Even if your actions were 100% innocent, albeit grossly incompetent (which is still entirely likely), you were still the person holding the gun when it fired. How could you possibly not feel any sort of guilt at all? Again, this sounds more like a claim that’s being prepared for the defense stand than any sort of self-reflection after a tragedy.

If Alec Baldwin really wants to do himself a favor, maybe he should just stop talking until the investigation is complete. It’s still possible that he might be able to limp away without taking any charges. And even if he were to be charged it would likely be something along the lines of reckless endangerment of some sort. He’s not going to take a murder rap for this. His time could likely be better spent trying to do something nice for Ms. Hutchins’ family. At the moment, he appears to be more concerned about himself than he is about them.