Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival tragedy will not be investigated by independent third party

Officials have opted for county officials to investigate the incident at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston, Texas that left ten people dead and many more injured.

Officials previously called for an independent investigation to run in tandem with the Houston Police Department’s investigation into the incident in an effort to avoid any conflicts of interest and ensure that the families of the victims get the answers they’re looking for. However, on Monday, Houston-area officials instead opted to have a country administrator conduct a review along with other government entities. 

County Judge Lina Hidalgo — the top elected official in Harris County, which includes Houston — had previously proposed a third-party probe that would look at the planning and execution of crowd control tactics at the festival, founded and headlined by rap superstar Scott.

The Harris County administrator instead will work with other city and county entities to review security, fire and other safety plans at the county-owned NRG Park, where the festival was held.

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Houston County Judge Lina Hidalgo, center, flanked by Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, left, and U.S. Rep. Al Green, right, speaks during a news conference, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Houston, after several people died and scores were injured during a music festival the night before. 

Houston County Judge Lina Hidalgo, center, flanked by Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, left, and U.S. Rep. Al Green, right, speaks during a news conference, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Houston, after several people died and scores were injured during a music festival the night before. 
(AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

“I hope that it comes back with actionable lessons,” Hidalgo said. “I hope it doesn’t result in something vague or forgotten.”

The decision means that the investigation into the incident will not be handled by a definitively objective independent party. Other members of Harris County’s governing body, known as a commissioner’s court, were concerned Hidalgo’s investigation could lead to legal liabilities for the county.

Several lawsuits have already been filed over injuries and deaths at the Nov. 5 concert.

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Houston police are conducting a separate criminal investigation into what happened at the festival. So far, no one has been charged. However, some believe that allowing the police to investigate the situation is insufficient given its presence at the festival as well as the city’s friendly relationship with Scott, a Houston native. 

The police department, along with the city fire department, played key roles in crowd control and other safety measures at the show. Experts in crowd safety say an investigation by neutral outsiders into the tragedy could help avoid potential conflicts of interest and promote transparency.

Festival goers head into the VIP area prior to Travis Scott performing during day one of the Astroworld Music Festival at NRG Park on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Houston. 

Festival goers head into the VIP area prior to Travis Scott performing during day one of the Astroworld Music Festival at NRG Park on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Houston. 
( Amy Harris/Invision/AP, File)

In addition, the rapper, as well as the Astroworld Festival, are a staple in the Houston community. Scott, whose real name is Jacques Bermon Webster, was born and raised in Houston and continues to have close ties to the city. He often uses his celebrity status to be a positive influence on his old community. He reportedly spent the days leading up to the 2021 Astroworld Festival doing charity work and announcing partnerships with local organizations to provide support to youths in Houston.

As a result, any investigation into Scott, what happened in the audience or a breakdown among crowd control tactics comes with some degree of the Houston Police Department investigating itself — thus leading to objectivity concerns. 

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Police have said they are reviewing surveillance video provided by concert promoter Live Nation, as well as dozens of clips of the show shared on social media. Investigators also planned to speak with Live Nation representatives, Scott and concertgoers.

More than 300 people were treated on-site for injuries at the show, and at least 25 were hospitalized.

Many unanswered questions center on the actions of event organizers.

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

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)

A 56-page event operations plan for the Astroworld music festival included protocols for dangerous scenarios including an active shooter, bomb or terrorist threats, and severe weather. But it did not include information on what to do in the event of a crowd surge.

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The 10 people who died included a 9-year-old boy. The oldest was 27. Reports on individual causes of death are pending.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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