Police: Gene Hackman Acted in Self-Defense When He Slapped a Homeless Man

Gene Hackman ESPN - P 2012
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Gene Hackman ESPN - P 2012

The star and his wife were approached "aggressively" in the city's downtown plaza district.

Gene Hackman was acting in self-defense when he slapped a homeless man who had "aggressively" approached him and his wife as the couple strolled in Santa Fe's downtown plaza on Tuesday, police say.

"At 1:30 in the afternoon we had a male named Bruce Becker, who is a homeless male, call police and say he had been beaten up by Gene Hackman," Sgt. Andrea Dobyns of the Santa Fe Police Department tells The Hollywood Reporter.

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Police officers then arrived at the scene and took Becker's statement. At the same time, Hackman, 82, approached a sergeant in the area and gave his own side of the story.

Hackman told police that Becker had approached Hackman and his wife, Betsy, in "a very aggressive manner" and then called his wife "a derogatory name."

"Mr. Hackman was basically afraid for his safety as well as for his wife, so he hit Mr. Becker across the face. That was the end of the altercation. There were no visible injuries to Mr. Becker," Dobyns says, adding, "It looks like it was an open-hand hit."

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No formal charges were filed. 

The two-time Oscar winner has starred in enduring films like The French Connection, Superman, Hoosiers and The Royal Tenenbaums. He announced his retirement from acting in 2004, and has since spent his time writing novels -- much to the disappointment of Mitt Romney, who has singled out Hackman as his first choice to play him on the big screen.

This incident isn't the first unpleasant bump in the road to interrupt Hackman's retirement: In January, the actor was airlifted to a hospital after being hit by a car while riding a bicycle in the Florida Keys.