A grand jury declined Thursday to indict rapper Travis Scott and five other people for their role in the 2021 Astroworld tragedy that left 10 people dead and hundreds injured, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.

Ogg said the grand jury, which heard evidence from a 19-month investigation, “found that no crime did occur, that no single individual was criminally responsible.”

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

The tragedy unfolded shortly after Scott took the stage on the first night of the two-day festival. Thousands of fans squeezed together near the stage, investigators said, pinning victims against barriers and crushing them in the crowd.

The tragedy prompted lawsuits by more than 2,000 concertgoers and sparked a round of finger-pointing by local officials over who was responsible for safety and security during the festival at NRG Park.

Prosecutors said there were three possible charges that they evaluated in the Astroworld case: manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and endangering a child.

“We realized in the investigation that there was unlikely to be a voluntary act by any one person or a group of people in terms of manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide,” Assistant District Attorney Alycia Harvey said. “Realistically, the only crime you can commit by omission that even remotely fit these facts is endangering a child.”

Scott’s lawyer, Kent Schaffer, said the only two possibilities for charging Scott would have been if Scott had been involved in the planning of the festival, or if he had done or said something from the stage that provoked the crowd or resulted in the crush of fans.

Scott had no involvement in the festival planning, which was done entirely by organizer Live Nation, Schaffer said.

The lawyer also said that investigators previously had agreed that Scott had done nothing to prompt the audience’s actions and had done everything authorities had asked of him in ending his performance.

The five others who will not be charged include festival manager Brent Silberstein and Seyth Boardman, a contractor who served as the festival’s safety and risk director.

“It’s been two very long years and two very stressful years as we’ve tried to unravel what happened during Astroworld,” said Silberstein’s lawyer, Christopher Downey. “We were convinced that Brent did absolutely nothing wrong and did everything he could to run a safe concert, and we’re glad that the grand jury saw that no criminal act happened.”

  • Harris County Assistant District Attorney Alycia Harvey
  • Houston Police Chief Troy Finner
  • Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, at right, prepares for a press conference

A Houston Chronicle investigation identified several safety lapses during the concert. Among them: Audience zones were barricaded on three sides, making it difficult for people to escape overcrowding and the surging audience; poorly trained security guards on site; the lack of a unified command center that would have put organizers and public safety agencies in the same place during the show; and confusion about who had the authority to halt the concert. 

It took 37 minutes from the first reports of injury for the show to be shut down. Scott later said he was unable to hear any of the fans yelling for help with victims while he was on performing.

A report commissioned by Gov. Greg Abbott later found several significant issues that contributed to the tragedy, including the permitting process and on-site command problems.

Houston Police Department Detective Michael Barrow presents an image from the 2021 Astroworld concert
Houston Police Department Detective Michael Barrow presents an image from the 2021 Astroworld concert that demonstrates a “shock wave,” in which the crowd moved because too many people were taking up space, during a press conference Thursday in downtown Houston. (Marie D. De Jesús / Houston Landing)

‘We want to be transparent’

Michael Barrow, a Houston Police Department detective who investigated the tragedy, said the “key contributing factors” to the tragedy were “overpopulation and resulting compaction” in a tightly-packed section of the venue in front of the main stage.

All ten deaths occurred in that section, Barrow said, which totaled about 8,160 square feet. 

Barrow also presented video and photographic evidence from the event showing signs of overcrowding among concertgoers. One video showed a “shock wave,” an involuntary mass movement within a crowd that signals too many people are occupying that space. Another image showed “crowd pockets,” isolated areas where crowd pressure has caused some individuals to collapse. 

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner addresses his department's Astroworld investigation
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner addresses his department’s Astroworld investigation during a press conference held Thursday in downtown Houston. (Marie D. De Jesús / Houston Landing)

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner promised to release the entire police report about the investigation — a move he called “unprecedented.” He did not specify when the report will become public.

“We want to be transparent,” said Finner, who added the report was more than 1,000 pages. “You can’t stand up here (for) two minutes and tell everything that happened.” 

Finner said the report’s release was not only important for the victims’ families, but for the public.

“You can read it and see the challenges that everybody faced that night,” Finner said.

Asked if the grand jury’s decision was the result she wanted, Ogg said what she wanted was irrelevant. 

“We’re bound to the evidence,” Ogg said. “We apply the law to the evidence. We respect jury’s verdicts, whether they’re grand jury verdicts or trial jury verdicts.”

But Ogg added that other legal remedies could provide justice for the victims’ families.

“I want peace for those families,” Ogg said. “Whether criminal charges, whether civil liability and money damages, whether administrative help brings those families justice, I just hope they achieve some kind of resolution that they can move forward with.”

Victims who have filed civil lawsuits, along with their lawyers, have not spoken publicly about the Astroworld tragedy since a judge handling 400 of the cases issued a gag order in February 2022. A state appellate court upheld the legality of the gag order earlier this month in response to a legal challenge from ABC News.

Staff writer Eileen Grench contributed to this report.

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Clare Amari covers public safety for the Houston Landing. Clare previously worked as an investigative reporter for The Greenville News in South Carolina, where she reported on police use of force, gender-based...