Last Thursday, after meeting for six hours and listening to testimony from homicide detectives, a Texas grand jury declined to indict and press criminal charges against Travis Scott as well as workers and organizers behind the 2021 Astroworld Festival.
This decision came after 19 months of investigating and looking into the concert that unfortunately turned into a deadly tragedy. During Scott’s set, chaos ensued after a dangerous crowd surged forward, with fans trying to rush the stage. Thousands were injured and ten concertgoers died due to “compression asphyxia,” which the medical examiner described as when “the pressure from the large crowd at the event was so great that it quickly squeezed all the air from the lungs of the 10 victims.”
At the time, police declared this as a “mass casualty event.” At the time, it was unknown just how much Scott actually saw from the stage, and he continued performing for almost an hour after the first injuries were reported. According to Scott’s attorneys, he didn’t learn about the “mass casualty declaration until the following morning.”
“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,” said Ted Anastasiou, a spokesperson for Scott. “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.”
Scott is presently out of the country, but his lawyer Kent Schaffer who told him the news reported that “[h]e 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.”
District Attorney Kim Ogg stated, “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.”
“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,” said Ogg. She added that the “grand jury’s determination has no impact on the many civil lawsuits pending,” CNN reports.
Indeed, there are several lawsuits against Scott and the organizers of the festival, where “plaintiffs allege they let too many people inside the venue despite knowing the risks.”
In a statement, Robert Hilliard, an attorney for one of the deceased victims, 9-year-old Ezra Blount’s family, said “There is clear culpability and gross negligent conduct committed by these various civil defendants directly resulting in deaths and serious injury.” “Though disappointed the grand jury declined to find this conduct was criminal, Ezra Blount’s family will continue and wait for their day in court. A Harris County jury, once given an opportunity to see the damning evidence leading up to causing this tragedy, may very well return a record Texas verdict against these defendants,” continued Hilliard.