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No criminal charges filed over Astroworld disaster

"A tragedy isn’t always a crime, and not every death is a homicide," says Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg

By James Hanley on 30 Jun 2023

Travis Scott

image © Frank Schwichtenberg

No criminal charges are to be filed over the Astroworld festival tragedy.

Ten concertgoers, aged between nine and 27, died following a crowd surge during Travis Scott’s headline set at NRG Park in Houston, Texas in November 2021. The 50,000-cap festival was promoted by Live Nation and Austin-based Scoremore.

However, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced yesterday (29 June) that a grand jury has issued six no-bills related to the deaths, meaning that no criminal charges will be filed.

Jurors declined to charge Scott (real name Jaques Webster II), festival manager Brent Silberstein, John Junell of Live Nation, security planners Shawna Boardman and Seyth Boardman of Contemporary Services Corporation, and Emily Ockenden, formerly of event production company BWG, after reviewing all the evidence.

“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,” says Ogg. “But a tragedy isn’t always a crime, and not every death is a homicide.”

The decision has no bearing on the pending civil lawsuits relating to Astroworld

Ogg adds that the decision will have no bearing on the many pending civil lawsuits relating to the case.

Almost 5,000 people have claimed they were injured in the disaster, which unfolded on 5 November 2021, with lawsuits filed in each of the 24 district courts in Harris County. Nearly every claim alleges negligence such as “failures of safety and security rules, crowd control and emergency response measures, and failures to provide adequate security, supervision, training and care”.

Last year, the go-ahead was given for hundreds of the lawsuits to be formally consolidated into a single case. The first wrongful death lawsuit settlements were reportedly reached last autumn.

It is Harris County DA policy to have a grand jury review cases involving serious and fatal incidents that may or may not involve criminal activity. The grand jury presentation by prosecutors this week was followed 19 months of work by the Houston Police Department.

“I want to commend the dedication of each investigator and prosecutor who worked on this case for doing the kind of work any of us would want if the victims in this disaster were our loved ones,” adds Ogg.


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