May 29, 2024

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Rapper Travis Scott is deflecting charges about crowd crushing in Texas

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

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said the grand jury was the culmination of 19 months of investigating the tragedy at the Scott Astroworld festival in November 2021.

“Our investigators and prosecutors have done everything they can to ensure that the grand jury gets to the truth,” Ogg said.

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

“Now that this chapter is closed, we hope the government’s efforts can focus on what matters most – preventing future heartbreaking tragedies like the world of Astroworld from happening again,” Schafer said in a statement.

Five others, including Live Nation festival director Brent Silberstein, were also acquitted.

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

Other lawyers could not be immediately reached Thursday.

The probe stemmed from a killing wave of fans at Houston’s Astroworld, where thousands were injured when overcapacity crowds pressed forward as Scott took the stage. Ten people were killed by suffocation, including a ten-year-old child.

The tragedy unleashed a flurry of lawsuits against Scott and festival organizers, including entertainment giant Live Nation (LYV.N), which merged with Ticketmaster in 2010.

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Prosecutors allege that 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 party to appear packed.

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

The cases in Texas state court have been consolidated in a process known as multi-district litigation, which simplifies the adjudication of similar lawsuits.

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

Other lawsuits are pending, including one brought by the family of the 10-year-old boy who was killed.

(Reporting by Jack Quinn and Mike Spector in New York). Editing by Amy Stevens, Lisa Shumaker and Daniel Wallis

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Mike Spector

Thomson Reuters

Mike Spector is a Reuters correspondent covering corporate crises spanning bankruptcies, class action tort litigation and government investigations. He was the first to reveal Johnson & Johnson’s plan to get out of bankruptcy lawsuits alleging that popular baby powder caused cancer. He later revealed in an investigative series how J&J and other companies and nonprofits use the bankruptcy system to evade liability for lethal product and sexual assault lawsuits while avoiding filing Chapter 11 themselves. Mike also contributed to an award-winning Reuters series on pervasive secrecy in US courts covering evidence of deadly products. Mike previously worked at The Wall Street Journal, covering bankruptcy and private equity on the newspaper’s mergers and acquisitions team, as well as in the auto industry. He has been part of award-winning teams that covered government-brokered bailouts and the General Motors bankruptcy; insider trading and debt trading cases related to bankruptcy; and emerging concerns about Tesla’s self-driving car technology. He holds a master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University.

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