Family of Marine killed in Afghanistan sues Alec Baldwin for defamation
The family of a Marine killed in Afghanistan during the Biden administration’s chaotic troop withdrawal has sued Alec Baldwin for defamation, claiming the actor falsely accused the serviceman’s grieving relatives of being insurrectionists.
Rylee McCollum, 20, of Wyoming, was one of 13 US service members killed in the Aug. 26 bombing outside the Abbey Gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport, where they were processing would-be evacuees to be flown out of Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover.
After McCollum’s death, Baldwin found one of the Marine’s sisters, Roice, on Instagram and sent her a check for $5,000 for his widow, Jiennah Crayton, and her newborn, according to the suit filed Monday in federal court, the Casper Star Tribune reported.
The actor told Roice that the check was a “tribute to a fallen soldier,” according to the Cowboy State Daily.
But then this month, Baldwin accused Roice of taking part in last year’s riots in the nation’s capital and called her an “insurrectionist” after she posted a photo on Instagram that she took on Jan. 6, 2021 at the Washington Monument, the outlets reported.
She posted the image on her page on Jan. 1, ahead of the one-year anniversary of the invasion of the US Capitol.
Roice, who attended a demonstration in support of President Donald Trump, was not involved in the riots and was never accused of any crimes during the mayhem, according to the news outlet.
Neither Crayton nor McCollum’s other sister, Cheyenne, were reportedly at the Capitol on the day of the riots.
“Are you the same woman I sent the $ for your sister’s husband who was killed during the Afghanistan exit?” Baldwin reportedly wrote on Roice’s Instagram post from his account, according to the complaint.
“When I sent the $ for your late brother, out of real respect for his service to this country, I didn’t know you were a January 6th rioter,” the “30 Rock” star reportedly wrote in a private message.
Included in the lawsuit were screenshots of the actor’s messages, one of which showed Baldwin accusing her of being a “January 6th rioter.”
The sister pushed back at the actor, telling him that protesting is legal in the US and that she had already been interviewed by the FBI.
“Your activities resulted in the unlawful destruction of government property, the death of a law enforcement officer, an assault on the certification of the presidential election. I reposted your photo. Good luck,” Baldwin wrote back, according to the lawsuit.
He also reposted Roice’s photo on his Instagram account, which has 2.4 million followers, and mentioned her involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, protests, according to the complaint.
Roice was soon hit with “hostile, aggressive, hateful” messages from Baldwin’s followers, including one that said, “Get raped and die, worthless c— (kiss emoji). Your brother got what he deserved,” the lawsuit reportedly says.
Baldwin also allegedly misidentified Crayton as an insurrectionist in an Instagram comment, although she was not in DC that day.
People then began sending hateful and threatening messages to the widow and Cheyenne, according to the lawsuit, some comparing them to ISIS or Nazis.
Some users also called on Baldwin to get a refund for the $5,000 he donated to the family, according to the lawsuit, which noted that Baldwin did nothing to stop his followers from contacting the family.
“Baldwin’s conduct was negligent and reckless as he should have known that making the allegations he did against Plaintiffs to his millions of followers would cause Plaintiffs harm,” the lawsuit said, according to the Cowboy State Daily.
“I think it’s worth noting, too, that his social media following … is five times the population of your state,” the family’s attorney, Dennis Postiglione, told the Star Tribune.
“Either he knew what would happen, and he wanted it to happen, or he just didn’t think about it,” he added.
A rep for Baldwin didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.
The plaintiffs — McCollum’s sisters, Roice and Cheyenne, and his widow, Jiennah — are seeking damages of at least $25 million for alleged defamation, invasion of privacy, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Baldwin is also facing a lawsuit over the fatal shooting last fall on the New Mexico set of “Rust,” which killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
In November, a set lighting technician accused Baldwin and the film’s armorer of negligence, claiming he suffered emotional distress after nearly being hit by the bullet.