Houston Chief Pinpoints Exactly When Police Told Astroworld Personnel To “Shut Down The Concert,” Says He Didn’t Have “Ultimate Authority To End The Show”
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner gave a press conference today that was filled with new information on the tragic loss of life during Travis Scott’s set at the Astroworld festival last weekend.
Chief Finner began by saying that, out of respect for the families of victims, he would not be litigating the case in the press.
Finner went on to say the event was sanctioned by Harris County, not the City of Houston. It was Harris County that agreed to the contract with Live Nation and NRG Stadium, according to the chief. Law enforcement’s role there was, he said, “traffic enforcement…traffic management, securing the perimeter.”
On that last count, the chief said that his officers set up egress for ambulances where needed. He said a big problem was merchandise tents. The merchandise was “very sought after,” Finner said, “that’s what set a lot of the kids rushing towards that, breaking down barriers.”
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Among he many roles of Live Nation, as he described it, was to secure mosh pits. There were two of them right in front the stage. He further said that HPD personnel told those “in charge” of the crowd that “CPR was underway on one or more individuals.” He subsequently identified the people receiving that information as “the production team.”
“They were told that, we communicated that to them,” said the chief. He later added via a tweet, “it was at that time HPD personnel told personnel in charge of the event to shut down the performance.” That statement was among the most definitive indications yet of when concert production personnel might have known there was a problem. Finner declined to get into the timeline of events further, since “timelines are a major focus of the investigation right now.
Asked why HPD didn’t end the show then and there Finner said, “When you say authority and ability to end a show, we don’t hold the plug. But it’s always in the plan…we had those discussions with the production staff. The ultimate authority to end a show is with production…and the entertainer.”
The chief broke down the ever-increasing numbers of officers he has devoted to the annual event, from 170 officers in 2018 to 240 officers in 2019 to “around 530” this year — the concert was called off last year due to the pandemic. As for Live Nation security personnel the chief, said “I’m not comfortable with [giving out] numbers yet they’re giving us. The challenge is, you have three or four security companies, and some of them, the records are not good.”
Asked about his meeting with Travis Scott before the show Finner said, “I’m the kind of chief that I meet with people, whenever I can. And we had a very respectful few minute conversation about my concern.”
Finner was also questioned about whether he could be impartial in his investigation, given he knows Scott, the chief said he has only met the rapper twice. “That’s not a close relationship to me.
He later affirmed, “I’m telling you as chief of police, we’re going to hold people accountable.” Speaking about the families of victims he said, “We owe it to them.”
Regarding reports that someone may have been pricked by a needle and injected with drugs against their will, the chief said the department had located the person, whom he described as a security guard, and the man said he had not been injected with any substance.
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