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Gene Hackman: Actor knew homeless man he slapped, police say

- Associated Press - Thursday, November 1, 2012

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Actor Gene Hackman had given clothes, money and rides to a homeless man whom he slapped this week after the man became aggressive toward the Oscar-winning actor and his wife, according to a police report detailing the incident here.

Police say Mr. Hackman acted in self-defense and no charges have been filed.

Mr. Hackman told officers he had helped Bruce Becker, 63, for several years, and Mr.  Becker told a similar story. But their versions of the actual physical confrontation diverge, with Mr. Hackman saying he slapped the man once and Mr.  Becker saying he was hit 10 to 12 times by the tough-guy actor.

The report released by Santa Fe police said both agreed the incident began when Mr. Becker approached Mr. Hackman and his wife, Betsy, on a street early Tuesday afternoon and asked for money.

Mr. Becker told police that Mr. Hackman called him a worthless bum and told him to get a job. Mr. Hackman said he told Mr. Becker to get a job and tried to walk away, but Mr. Becker kept following him and his wife, asking for money and calling them by a derogatory name.

Mr. Becker said he told Mr. Hackman, "Gene, you are just another Clint Eastwood; you are nothing but an empty chair," an apparent reference to Mr. Eastwood's Republican National Convention appearance this summer. He said that's when Mr. Hackman went "ballistic" and began "pummeling" him, he told officers.

Mr. Hackman, 82, told police Mr. Becker became angry when he refused to give him money, called him a name and moved in close in a threatening manner. The actor told officers that's when he slapped Mr. Becker once to fend him off and both fell to the ground.

Mr. Hackman and his wife have a home in Santa Fe. He has won two Academy Awards and been nominated for three others over a career that has spanned five decades.

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