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of 2021. The judge failed to inform the jury that manslaughter in Minnesota requires the defendant to intentionally create circumstances of negligence. Without that intent, the incident is only an accident -for which civil, not criminal liability applies. The jury convicted Kim Potter on all counts.
On October 21, 2021 Alec Baldwin was preparing to shoot a scene for his new movie Rust. He was both the lead actor and the producer, making him responsible for various aspects of management on the set.
As he sat quietly in a church pew on the set, he drew a revolver for practice, pointed it at the director of photography, Halyna Hutchins, and fired the weapon killing her and wounding the director, Joel Souza. Apparently unbeknownst to anyone, the revolver was loaded.
After the incident, it was learned that there had been several accidental discharges of firearms on the set. Some crew members had quit, due to lax gun safety. Others were frequently using the revolver in question for target shooting during breaks. The totality of circumstances was such that the probability of an “accident” was near its maximum — and everyone had been forewarned.
The Baldwin shooting is still under investigation by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department. But that hasn’t stopped Baldwin from taking his story on the road. He even sat for an hour-long interview with George Stephanopoulos, in which he proclaimed that he felt no guilt over the incident, because he hadn’t done anything wrong. He claims he had no duty to ensure the safety of the gun he was holding in his own hand. He was just practicing with a weapon which his staff had declared safe. It was their fault, not his. He was only the shooter.
In both incidents, people were accidently shot and killed. In one incident, the shooting occurred while the victim was wrestling with police officers and attempting to flee with a hostage. Use of deadly force would have been justified. But because Potter meant to tase him instead, she was tried and convicted of manslaughter.
In the other incident, the victim was killed while the shooter was sitting, under no stress, in a church, playing with a loaded gun that hadn’t been checked. Nobody has questioned Baldwin’s intent. But he violated every safety rule prescribed by the gun and filmmaking industries, pointed a loaded weapon at another human being, and fired it.
I’m not saying that the Santa Fe Sheriff should rush their investigation of the Hutchins shooting. I want them to do a thorough and complete investigation. I am saying that there was a rush to bring the power of the state to bear against Kim Potter — simply because she was a police officer. And this rush to judgement was made by the same people that have tacitly supported the defund the police movement. It was about politics, not justice. Kim Potter was just the egg that had to be broken for the omelet.
In the heat of wrestling with a known thug, Potter’s first instinct was to spare his life. Only an accident prevented her from doing so. She then immediately admitted her error. Baldwin’s first instinct has been to blame everyone but himself for his mistake — showing no remorse or acceptance of culpability. Can anyone claim that justice has been factored into the treatment of the two cases?
Isn’t Kim Potter precisely the kind of cop we want on the force? Yet she’s going to prison because she’s also human. Will sending her to prison for an accident help us get more good cops, or more illsuited cops? Will the public benefit from her incarceration, or suffer? Is this anyone’s definition of justice, other than the radicals of the left?
Cases such as Potter’s are exactly why prosecutors are granted prosecutorial discretion — so that they may factor justice into their charging decisions based on the totality of circumstances. But when radicals are elected into top law enforcement positions (looking at you, Keith Ellison), that discretion is used for the opposite of justice.
Now, Kim Potter is going to jail, and Alec Baldwin will probably be stumping for more gun control. How’s that for justice?
Episodes such as this are a reflection of our social values. We value actors enough to cut them a little slack. Cops, not so much. But then the police only keep us safe. The actors entertain us.
John Green is a political refugee from Minnesota, now residing in Idaho. He currently writes at the American Free News Network (afnn.us). He can be followed on Facebook or reached at [email protected]