Rapper Travis Scott avoids charges over Texas crowd crush

June 29 (Reuters) – A Texas grand jury on Thursday declined to press criminal charges against rapper Travis Scott and five others over a 2021 crowd crush at a music festival that left 10 dead and injured thousands, prosecutors said.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said the grand jury was the culmination of 19 months of investigation into the tragedy at Scott’s Astroworld Festival in November 2021.

“Our investigators and prosecutors gave it everything they had to ensure that the grand jury could reach the truth,” Ogg said.

Scott’s attorney, Kent Schaffer, said the findings confirmed Scott was not responsible for the tragedy at the festival.

“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,” Schaffer said in a statement.

Five others, including Live Nation festival manager Brent Silberstein, were also cleared.

“Brent did everything they could to run a safe festival,” Silberstein’s lawyer Christopher Downey said.

Lawyers for the others could not immediately be reached Thursday.

The probe stemmed from a deadly surge of fans at Astroworld in Houston, where thousands were injured when the over-capacity crowd pressed forward as Scott took the stage. Ten people were killed by compressive asphyxiation, including a 10-year-old boy.

The tragedy unleashed a wave of litigation against Scott and the festival’s organizers, including entertainment giant Live Nation (LYV.N), which merged with Ticketmaster in 2010.

The plaintiffs allege Scott, Live Nation and more than two dozen other defendants let too many people into the venue despite knowing the risks because they wanted the concert to appear packed.

At least 4,900 fans were injured, according to lawyers representing victims in lawsuits against Scott and the organizers.

The cases have been consolidated in Texas state court in a process known as multidistrict litigation, which streamlines adjudication of similar lawsuits.

The family of one of the people killed settled on undisclosed terms with Scott, Live Nation and others in October 2022.

Other lawsuits remain pending, including a case brought by the family of the 10-year-old boy who was killed.

Reporting by Jack Queen and Mike Spector in New York; Editing by Amy Stevens, Lisa Shumaker and Daniel Wallis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Mike Spector

Thomson Reuters

Mike Spector is a correspondent at Reuters covering corporate crises that span bankruptcy, mass tort litigation and government investigations. He was the first to expose Johnson and Johnson’s plan to offload into bankruptcy lawsuits alleging its iconic Baby Powder caused cancer. He later revealed in an investigative series how J&J and other businesses and nonprofits use the bankruptcy system to escape liability for lawsuits over deadly products and sexual abuse while avoiding filing for Chapter 11 themselves. Mike has also contributed to an award-winning Reuters series on pervasive secrecy in American courts that covers up evidence of deadly products. Mike previously worked at The Wall Street Journal, where he covered bankruptcy and private equity on the paper’s mergers and acquisitions team, and also the automotive industry. He has been part of award-winning teams that covered the government-brokered rescue and bankruptcy of General Motors; insider trading and related bankruptcy debt-trading issues; and emerging concerns with Tesla’s self-driving car technology. He has a master’s degree from Columbia University’s journalism school and an undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University.

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