On Friday, Austin Amelio - who played Dwight on The Walking Dead and now stars on Fear the Walking Dead - gave testimony as a witness for AMC in the wrongful death trial involving stuntman John Bernecker. In 2017, while filming a death scene in season 8, Bernecker fell over a small balcony and missed the protective pads underneath by two feet, landing instead headfirst on the concrete. He died of severe head injuries two days later.
The central question in the trial is whether The Walking Dead and its stunt coordinator were negligent, or if Bernecker’s death was a result of his own error. The matter seems to revolve around if and why Bernecker grasped the rail and held on as he flipped over the balcony. Bernecker was allegedly told not to hold on to the railing, and doing so ered the trajectory of his fall, resulting in his death. Holding onto the trailing was neither in any of the rehearsals nor in the script, according to AMC’s lawyers, and on Friday, those lawyers were trying to determine why he might have held onto the railing.
Austin Amelio, it turns out, is a major witness for The Walking Dead‘s defense, because Dwight is the character who killed the character, Mark Griffin Freeman, for whom Bernecker was a stunt double. Bernecker’s attorneys wanted to know if Amelio or his prop gun touched Bernecker before he fell, which might have resulted in Bernecker instinctually grabbing the rail.
“Absolutely not,” Amelio testified, recounting the safety meeting he’d had before shooting the scene. “The only thing I remember is, ‘Do not touch him.’” Amelio who witnessed the entire scene, also testified that he “was in complete and utter shock” and that “it was the worst day in my life.”
Freeman, who played the character for whom Bernecker was doubling, backed up Amelio’s account. He had footage of the sequence from his phone. He filmed the entire scene, and Freeman testified that it clearly shows Bernecker moving only after his body had cleared Amelio’s hand. AMC further suggested that Bernecker’s decision to grab the railing could not have been foreseen. A number of other crew members from The Walking Dead have also testified on the show’s behalf.
Bernecker’s family, meanwhile, argues that Bernecker should not be held accountable, the death was preventable, and that precautions that the series took were inadequate. The defense will continue putting on their case on Monday ahead of closing arguments expected midweek.
AMC has decided to follow HBO’s lead and provide some free streaming content for folks stuck at home AKA everyone. AMC Networks is now offering several programs to stream for free, including The Walking Dead, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Comedy Bang Bang, and more. So please, stay the hell home so we can flatten the curve and get beyond this current situation.
AMC Networks – which includes AMC, BBC America, IFC, SundanceTV and Sundance Now – are giving everyone a good reason to stay home: free stuff. Free is always good, and it’s especially good now, since so many of us find ourselves facing financial hardship. So even if you’re not a subscriber to any of those channels, AMC has you covered. They’re making AMC has made the first half of The Walking Dead Season 10 available for free until May 1 per Deadline.
IFC has Baroness von Sketch Show, Birthday Boys, Spoils of Babylon, Spoils Before Dying, Bunk, Food Party, and select episodes from Comedy Bang Bang and Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Sundance Now shows that will be free until April 14 include Riviera, The Restaurant, Public Enemy, and The Bureau. And BBC America will feature the entire Planet Earth collection – Planet Earth I & II, Blue Planet I & II, Frozen Planet, and Seven Worlds, One Planet. That’s a lot of planets, folks.
Regarding the move to select free content, Sarah Barnett, President of AMC Networks Entertainment Group and AMC Studios, said:
“We want to join with our talent and respond to this moment in the best way that entertainment companies can – which is, to entertain people. Our We’re With You campaign is intended to give information, to offer companionship in the kind of responsive way that linear tv is uniquely able to, and we want to offer audiences the chance to have a laugh, maybe especially important at times of crisis. We also wanted to make our great content available to more viewers at a time when we are all looking for fantastic things to watch.”
AMC is also going to run new commercials that feature various AMC stars – including The Walking Dead‘s Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Better Call Saul‘s Rhea Seehorn and Giancarlo Esposito – in homemade videos. So, again: just stay home. Heck, stay home even if you don’t want to watch stuff on AMC. It’s the right thing to do.