Court

Travis Scott avoids criminal indictment in Astroworld tragedy after no-bill by grand jury

A Harris County grand jury reviewed evidence and deliberated for several hours on Thursday before eventually declining to indict Scott, along with five others.

Travis Scott performs at Day 1 of the Astroworld Music Festival at NRG Park on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Houston.
Amy Harris/Invision/AP
Travis Scott performs at Day 1 of the Astroworld Music Festival at NRG Park on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Houston.

A Harris County grand jury on Thursday declined to indict Houston Rapper Travis Scott over his involvement in the Astroworld tragedy in 2021.

During a press conference at the Houston Police Department’s headquarters, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said their job was to find justice in the midst of a tragedy, “and in this case, that justice was no-bill.”

“The grand jury found that no crime did occur, that no single individual was responsible,” Ogg said. “Our investigators and prosecutors gave it everything they had to ensure that the grand jury could reach the truth of the matter.”

Jurors reviewed evidence and deliberated for several hours on Thursday before eventually declining to indict Scott, along with five others: Brent Silberstein, John Junell, Shawna Boardman, Emily Ockenden and Seyth Boardman.

Earlier in the day, while jurors deliberated, Kent Schaffer, who’s representing Scott, told Houston Public Media that Scott was “confident” he didn’t do anything wrong.

“At no time since this case started has he changed at all, or expressed anything other than that the system will work to his advantage,” he said before the no-bill announcement.

The news came as HPD released several findings from the department’s 19-month Astroworld investigation examining whether the rapper and concert organizers like Live Nation had implemented proper safety measures during the November 2021 festival that left 10 dead and hundreds injured.

HPD Detective Mike Barrow said they examined the crowd during Scott’s performance and determined that all 10 deaths occurred within a specific section of the venue, dubbed quadrant 3 by investigators. While playing footage from this section of the concert area, Barrow said that the area was dangerously compacted with people hours prior to Scott’s performance.

This compaction was made worse after a separate show ended on a different stage before Scott’s performance, prompting more people to join the crowd — specifically funneling into quadrant 3.

According to an HPD timeline, Scott’s concert began at 9:02 p.m. Five minutes later, HPD received the first 911 call referencing distress in the crowd. By 9:32 p.m., HPD had received reports of multiple people entering the medical tent and people began climbing onto camera platforms in an attempt to stop the show.

By 9:39 p.m., the Houston Fire Department had initiated an Ambulance Task Force and the first person was transported to the hospital. Meanwhile, HPD was notified that victims were receiving CPR. At 9:47 p.m., the SouthEast Texas Regional Advisory Council declared a Mass Casualty Incident.

At 10:12 p.m. — about 25 minutes after SETRAC’s declaration — the show finally ended.

In the end, 10 people lost their lives, eight who died on the night of the concert: Mirza Baig, 27, of Houston; Rodolfo Peña, 23, from Laredo; Madison Dubiski, 23, from Cypress; Franco Patiño, 21, from Illinois; Jacob Jurinke, 20, from Illinois; John Hilgert, 14, from Houston; Axel Acosta, 21, from Washington; and Brianna Rodriguez, 16, from Houston. Bharti Shahani, 22, and Ezra Blount, 9, died in the days that followed.

During Thursday’s press conference, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said the grand jury’s decision was the culmination of the lengthy investigation. Finner added that the investigation officially ended last week and directed most questions to HPD’s full report, which has yet to be released. Finner said the 1,000-plus page report will be released to the public in the coming weeks.

“This incident was very complex, involves multiple entities,” Finner said. “You can read it and see the challenges that everybody faced at night.”

In the months that followed incident, countless lawsuits against the Houston rapper and concert organizers. The most notable change in the wake of the deadly concert came last year, when Houston and Harris County officials announced an updated event management agreement for large events at NRG Park.

Mark Norris contributed to this report.