SANTA FE – Actor Gene Hackman and a homeless man he slapped Tuesday in what police call self-defense knew each other for years, according to a Santa Fe Police report.
The report reveals new details of both men’s versions, which vary widely, of what occurred about 1:30 p.m. on Lincoln and Marcy and ended with both men on the ground.
The 82-year-old Hackman said he was fearful because the man, Bruce Becker, 63, was overly aggressive and called Hackman and his wife dirty names.
Becker says it was Hackman who “went ballistic” when Becker compared Hackman to Clint Eastwood and an empty chair, in reference to Eastwood’s presentation at the National Republican Convention.
According to the police report:
When an officer spoke to Hackman and his wife after Becker called police about the incident, the actor said he knew Becker off-and-on over the last several years. He said Becker had a camp on Artist Road, and that he picked Becker up several times and gave him money and clothing.
Hackman said Becker approached him downtown on Tuesday and asked for money. Hackman told Becker no, and told him to get a job. Becker continued to press the couple for money and Hackman said he attempted to walk away.
Becker became angry and called both Hackman and his wife a dirty name. Becker then allegedly took a step toward Hackman. It was then that Hackman slapped Becker. Both men lost their balance and fell.
Hackman said he struck Becker because Becker had a bag of canned goods in his right hand. He said Becker was swinging the bag and he feared that Becker would try to hit him or his wife with it.
Hackman had a cut on his right hand but refused medical attention.
Becker’s version of the story was that he asked Hackman if he could talk to him and then asked for money. He told police Hackman responded by saying, “You are just a bum. You can get a job on your own. You are worthless.”
Becker said he told Hackman, “Gene, you are just another Clint Eastwood. You are nothing but an empty chair.”
Becker said Hackman went “ballistic” upon hearing this, threw him to the ground and began “pummeling him” between 10 to 12 times. Becker said he did not fight back.
The report states Becker had a small red line on his forehead, but showed no evidence of being beaten otherwise. Becker refused medical treatment.
Police were unable to find anyone who witnessed an assault or battery. One man said he saw two heated individuals and he tried to calm them down before they left the area. The officers concluded that there was no basis to file charges on either man.
A message left for Hackman’s publicist was not returned. A message was left with an acquaintance of Becker’s, but Becker did not return the call as of Wednesday.
Becker has a court record that includes charges of battery on a peace officer, aggravated battery and abandonment or abuse of a child.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal