Travis Scott performs at the 2021 Astroworld Festival at NRG Park in Houston, Texas, in this file photo from November 5, 2021.
According to prosecutors, a grand jury decided not to arrest rapper Travis Scott and five other people in relation to the catastrophic crowd crush at the Houston Astroworld Festival in 2021.
The grand jury on Thursday did not find anyone guilty on any of the criminal charges linked to the deaths of the 10 spectators, according to Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg.
At a press conference, Ogg stated, “The grand jury found that no crime did occur and that no single individual was criminally responsible.”
During headliner and festival founder Travis Scott’s performance, the audience pushed toward the stage, resulting in ten fatalities, including a nine-year-old boy. Attorneys for plaintiffs suing Scott, promoter Live Nation, and numerous other businesses claim that thousands were hurt.
Tens of thousands of people reportedly pushed toward the stage when Scott and then rapper Drake appeared, according to Houston Police and eyewitness testimonies. Attendees at the concert reported being shoved into one another from all directions.
Some audience members started to fall, pass out, and get trampled as the crowd pushed forward. According to investigators, all 10 victims were in the same general region and perished from compressive asphyxia.
The overpopulation and ensuing compaction in this sector were one of the major contributing factors to the deaths, Houston Detective Michael Barrow told reporters at the news conference.
“This was not a stampede, a rush to the stage, or a surge of the throng. There were collapses among the crowd as a result of the gradual compression or constriction of this sector.
The criminal investigation into the event, according to Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, was concluded last week. He described it as a “very complex investigation.” He declared that the results of the probe would be made public.
According to court documents, the grand jury also considered whether or not to indict festival director Brent Silberstein, John Junell of Live Nation, Shawna and Seyth Boardman of crowd control firm Contemporary Services Corporation, and Emily Ockenden of production firm BWG.
Possible charges are only those that can be committed by omission, such as child endangerment, according to prosecutor Alycia Harvey with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. According to her, a grand jury would have had to find an “act of causation” in order to uphold charges of manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.
In remarks to reporters on Thursday, a lawyer for Scott referred to the 19-month probe as “one of the most exhaustive investigations in the history of the Houston Police Department”.
According to Scott’s lawyer, Kent Schaffer, the issue has “had a huge impact” on his career, including the loss of sponsorships and endorsements.
“It makes it incredibly difficult to get insured as long as there is a pending criminal investigation,” Schaffer added. Because everyone in this country is deemed innocent, it will be excellent for him to be allowed to continue where he left off.
Scott declared on Twitter after the performance, “I’m absolutely upset by what happened last night. My thoughts and prayers are with the families and everyone else affected by what transpired at the Astroworld festival.
The rapper claimed he was not made aware of the injuries and fatalities among fans until after his performance in a lengthy interview with radio DJ Charlamagne Tha God in December 2021.
Scott responded, “I have a responsibility to figure out what happened here,” when asked at the time if he felt accountable for the tragedy. It is up to me to come up with a solution.
Days after the concert, Live Nation claimed in a statement to ABC News that it was collaborating with law enforcement authorities to find out what happened.
Live Nation stated: “We continue to support and help local law enforcement in their continuing investigation so that both the attendees’ families and the fans themselves can get the answers they desire and deserve. We will address all legal matters at the proper time.
Following the disaster, Scott and the event’s organizers have been the targets of lawsuits.
A single judge is managing hundreds of cases brought against event administrators, organizers, and artists.
Axel Acosta, a 21-year-old who was murdered in the crash, filed a lawsuit, which his family resolved last year on undisclosed terms.
The family of the nine-year-old victim, Ezra Blount, has also filed a lawsuit against Scott and other event organizers.
Robert C. Hilliard, the family’s attorney, said in a statement on Thursday that “criminal and civil accountability is critical to ensure that those responsible for the loss of innocent lives are made to not only understand the permanent devastation they caused these families but to show the rule of law applies to the powerful and the well connected.”
Ogg stated that the grand jury’s ruling “has no impact on the numerous civil lawsuits currently pending.”