Travis Scott, the popular 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, according to District Attorney Kim Ogg.
The decision came after the grand jury of the 228th District Court of Harris County found that no single individual was criminally responsible for the tragedy.
The Astroworld tragedy occurred on November 5, 2021, when a crowd of 50,000 people attended the Houston event helmed by Scott.
The concert quickly turned into chaos as fans were crushed, with many struggling to breathe as people crowded near the stage during Scott’s performance.
The victims died of “compression asphyxia,” according to the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, and ranged in age from 9 to 27 years old. In addition to the fatalities, 25 concertgoers were hospitalized and 300 others were treated for injuries at the site.
The grand jury also decided not to indict additional people connected to the festival who were part of the police investigation, including the chief of security John Junnell and festival director Brett Silberstein.
Their determination, however, has no impact on the many civil lawsuits pending against Scott and other organizers, including the entertainment company Live Nation. More than 500 lawsuits have been filed after the concert, with allegations that negligence in the planning and promotion of the festival contributed to the deaths.
Scott’s attorney, Kent Schaffer, stated that Scott was “ecstatic” upon hearing the news, adding that it was a “huge weight that has been removed from his shoulders.” Schaffer emphasized that the responsibility for event safety crises lies with the organizers, operators, and contractors, not the performers.
Despite the criminal charges being dropped, the incident has led to a critical conversation about concert safety and the responsibilities of all parties involved in organizing such large-scale events. It was not immediately clear 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, according to his lawyer.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, Scott expressed his distress and promised to provide aid to the victims as soon as possible. His spokesperson Ted Anastasiou emphasized that Scott had been “inaccurately and wrongly singled out,” noting that the rapper had stopped the show three separate times and was unaware of the events as they unfolded.
Investigations into the Astroworld tragedy are ongoing, with the Houston Police Department planning to release the entire criminal offense investigation in the coming weeks. The tragedy has sparked a broader conversation about concert safety and the role of artists, organizers, and security personnel in ensuring the well-being of attendees.
What is compression asphyxia?
Compression asphyxia is a cause of death due to the compression of the chest, which prevents normal breathing. This can occur when the body is subjected to a heavy force or pressure, such as in a crowd surge or crush, where the force exerted by the crowd prevents individuals from breathing properly.
Under such conditions, the person may not be able to inhale adequately, leading to a lack of oxygen (hypoxia or anoxia) and the buildup of carbon dioxide (hypercapnia) in the body. This can quickly result in unconsciousness and death if the pressure is not relieved.
In the context of the Astroworld tragedy, compression asphyxia occurred when the attendees were crushed due to overcrowding, preventing them from being able to breathe properly. This led to the unfortunate deaths of ten individuals at the event.