Travis Scott will not face criminal charges over Astroworld crowd crush
Travis Scott – the rapper and producer who organized the ill-fated 2021 Astroworld Festival – will not be indicted in connection with the crowd crush that left 10 people dead and injured hundreds at the event, District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Thursday.
A grand jury also decided not to indict additional people connected to the festival who were part of the police investigation, including chief of security John Junnell and festival director Brett Silberstein.
“In this instance, the grand jury of the 228th District Court of Harris County found that no crime did occur, that no single individual was criminally responsible,” Ogg said.
“It is tragic that 10 innocent people were killed while trying to enjoy an evening of music and entertainment, something many of us do routinely and without a second thought to our safety. But a tragedy isn’t always a crime, and not every death is a homicide,” Ogg also said. “This grand jury’s determination has no impact on the many civil lawsuits pending.”
The victims died of “compression asphyxia,” according to the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences. The youngest victim was nine years old. Multiple lawsuits have been filed against Scott and other organizers, including the entertainment company Live Nation. The defendants have denied the allegations that negligence in the planning and promotion of the festival contributed to the deaths.
“While waiting patiently for the District Attorney’s decision to not file charges, Travis Scott has been inaccurately and wrongly singled out, despite stopping the show three separate times and being unaware of the events as they were unfolding,” Scott’s spokesperson Ted Anastasiou told CNN Thursday. “Now that this chapter is closed, we hope for the government efforts to focus on what is most important – stopping future heartbreaking tragedies like Astroworld from ever occurring again.”
“Criminally speaking there is no case,” Scott’s attorney, Kent Schaffer told CNN by phone.
Schaffer delivered the news to Scott, who is out of the country for a concert.
“He is ecstatic. It’s a huge weight that has been removed from his shoulders. He’s looking forward to getting back home after being cleared by the grand jury,” Schaffer told CNN.
The grand jury met for six hours and homicide detectives testified, according to Schaffer.
Houston Police Department chief Troy Finner said on Thursday that the department will release the entire criminal offense in the coming weeks.
The Astroworld tragedy left 10 people dead when the concert quickly turned into chaos as concertgoers were crushed, with many struggling to breathe as people crowded near the stage during Scott’s performance.
The turmoil prompted officials to declare the concert a “mass casualty event,” police said at the time.
It was unclear at the time what Scott saw from the stage and whether he was aware of the conditions in the crowd. He continued to perform nearly an hour after injuries were reported, but did not know of the mass casualty declaration until the following morning, his lawyer said at the time.
Earlier in the day, authorities at the festival reported unruly behavior, with a handful of injured attendees taken to the hospital the day of the festival, Houston Fire Department logs showed at the time.
These earlier incidents are part of what led to the crowd conditions, with Houston Police Department’s lead homicide investigator Mike Barrow saying during Thursday’s press conference that a key cause of the compaction in the crowd was the early large number of concertgoers gathering at Scott’s main stage in anticipation of his show.
In a statement released after the deadly event, Scott said he was “distraught by the situation and desperately wishes to share his condolences and provide aid to (the victims) as soon as possible.”