A criminal investigation is underway for the 10 tragic deaths caused by a crowd surge at the Texas Astroworld Festival near NRG Stadium in Houston on Nov. 5th.
Ten fatalities and around 300 injuries occurred after Houston-based rap superstar Travis Scott, who headlined the event, took the stage. The crowd of at least 50,000 people, which had no seating but was standing, began surging toward the stage, ultimately crushing some of those nearest to the stage.
The deaths were attributed to cardiac arrest or to being crushed by the weight of the crowd pushing toward the stage.
Houston Police and other law enforcement officials, including the FBI, are investigating the Astroworld event, which had been scheduled for an entire weekend but was shut down after the opening night disaster.
Scott has faced criminal charges for inciting crowds
According to News Nation USA, Travis Scott, 30, has faced criminal charges in the past for inciting crowds to push forward.
Scott was arrested and pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless conduct after exhorting fans to rush the stage while he performed at a 2015 Lollapalooza show in Chicago. He also pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct after a 2017 music festival held in Arkansas.
However, in one video from the recent Houston event that was posted on social media, Scott stopped his performance and asked for help for persons who appeared to be injured in the audience. Even so, the concert itself was not halted until well after the casualties began.
According to one legal expert quoted in the Los Angeles Times, it is possible that Scott will face criminal charges for the Houston event. They say a charge of manslaughter could be made. (Manslaughter, which involves recklessness, is a less deliberate form of homicide than murder.)
Under Texas law, a person would have to know of the risk of certain behavior and then disregard it, thereby causing death, for a crime of manslaughter to occur. The person would have to have acted in a dangerous manner despite knowing that it could turn out to be life-threatening to others.
However, other legal experts also quoted by the Times said it would be difficult to criminally charge Scott or other organizers of the festival with manslaughter. They said there would be a very high burden of proof to prosecute a criminal case and that it is far more likely that civil lawsuits could prevail.
Under Texas law, manslaughter is a second-degree felony with punishments including a sentence of 2 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Wrongful death lawsuits have ensued
Though no criminal charges have been announced yet at the time of this writing, hundreds of civil lawsuits have already been filed against Scott, promoter Live Nation and Texas promoter ScoreMore Shows over the injuries and deaths. Hundreds of millions of dollars in damages are at stake in these civil lawsuits.
In fact, it has been reported that 248 such lawsuits have been filed in Harris County. One wrongful death lawsuit came from the families of 2 young friends from Illinois, 20 and 21 years old, who traveled to Houston for the Astroworld event and were crushed to death by the crowd.