Nov 8, 2021
Astroworld Festival Victim Lawyer Press Conference Transcript
The lawyer for Axel Acosta, a victim at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival, held a press conference on September 8, 2021. Read the transcript of the full briefing here.
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This is Andrew Acosta. This is Joel Acosta, Cynthia Acosta, and Jesus Acosta. On November 5th, 2021 more than 50,000, mostly young people attended what was supposed to be a two day concert event known as Astroworld, put on by Travis Scott and the other defendants in this case. During the first night of the concert, eight of the concert goers died and scores of others suffered significant injuries.
One of those killed was 21 year old Axel Acosta. Axel died as a result of the phenomenon known as crowd rush. Crowd rush occurs when you have an extremely large and high density crowd moving in one direction in a confined space. People involved in a crowd rush get carried by a river of people uncontrollably. Importantly, people that have been involved in crowd rush typically did not die from being trampled. They die from what is known as compressive asphyxiation, from the sheer force of all the weight of the bodies being stacked on top of them. This is exactly what happened to Axel. The immense force of the unruly and out of control crowd created by the defendant’s gross negligence, created such significant pressure onto his body that he could not breathe.
The air was literally slowly squeezed out of him, sending his heart into cardiac arrest. When he collapsed, concert goers trying to escape their own suffocation caused by the crowd rush trampled over his body like a piece of trash. When emergency caregivers finally removed Axel from the thick of human mass, he lay lifeless on the wet, littered grass at the edge of the chaos. They worked very hard to restart his heart, but they failed. Axel died on a muddy ground of a concert that he attended for fun. Axel Acosta loved rap music, and he loved the lineup that was going to be playing at Astroworld.
But that love and that feeling was not mutual. Certainly neither Travis Scott, nor his handlers, entourage, managers, agents, hangers-on, promoters, organizers, or sponsors cared enough about Axel to make even a minimal effort to keep him and the others at the concert safe.
This concert was intended for young people. We’ve seen that many of the people who attended were minors. I was thinking last night, my son went to Astroworld The first year it was held. Why wasn’t my son crushed and killed? Perhaps the only reason was he decided not to go. I want everyone watching to know that this could have been your kid. This could have been your kid.
We will be filing a lawsuit on behalf of 35 plaintiffs. That number is growing. Our phone is running off the hook. I think it’s self evident that this concert was planned incredibly poorly, that no regard was given to the safety of these young people at the concert, that there was no emergency response mechanism in place to help those who were in an extremist situation. There was not enough medical personnel, enough security personnel, and there were more people there than should have been there. The way the concert was set up, planned, organized, and the way things were handled once there was a problem, it boggles the mind.
We’ll be filing suit against the Scoremore entities. These were the promoters’ management. This is an entity that’s been sued multiple times for this very thing. We will be sued Live Nation. Remember, it was Live Nation who in 2011 was sued because the stage collapsed and killed seven people and injured 61 others. It was Live Nation who received $101 million verdict against it for a concert employee being injured by a forklift. It was Live Nation who in 2013, concert attendees said they were run over, beaten, and assaulted during a stampede. It was Live Nation who put on a Gwen Stefani concert where a woman was injured during a mid-show stampede.
And let me say the Live Nation, because we were involved in the concert that took place in Las Vegas where the many, many people were hurt, and Live Nation relied upon an arbitration clause on the back of the ticket. Do you really intend, do you really believe that you can enforce an arbitration clause against minors, against people killed, against people who are still in the hospital? I think not.
The case will also be brought against an entity called Contemporary Services Corp., who provided security. The case will be brought against Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation. The premises owner who worked with NRG was supposed to provide security and make sure the facility was safe. I want to remind you that this is not the first instance where people were injured at concerts. It’s a long history in the United States and in the world where individuals who came to a concert looking to have fun, looking to enjoy themselves, did not leave, or certainly did not leave still alive.
One of the experts who’s looked at the history of concert goers and the multiple events that have occurred has said, “The history of how concerts are handled is a history of disinterest and greed.” I think that’s what we have here. And let’s talk about Jacques Webster II, otherwise known as Travis Scott. On August 2nd, 2015, Travis Scott was arrested in Chicago for disorderly conduct after encouraging fans to jump over security barricades during his performance at Lollapalooza. 2017, Travis Scott was charged with inciting a riot, disorderly conduct because he encouraged the crowd to bypass security and to bypass on duty police officers.
Let’s take a little further look at Travis Scott and his antics. You got sound? This video, you see Travis Scott standing on the stage, encouraging people to bypass security and to charge the stage.
Travis Scott: (18:00)
I need one rager on each box. One rager [inaudible 00:18:12]
Times when Travis Scott specifically yelled into the crowd, asking them to bypass security, bypass the police personnel and rush the stage. Next slide, please.
Travis Scott: (18:31)
In that video you saw Travis Scott who was crowd surfing. Someone took his shoe and he instructed the crowd to F-him up, F-him up, F-him up, to the point the poor person who was being targeted by Travis Scott had to be carried away to escape with his life.
Travis Scott: (19:09)
I see you. I see you brother. How are you going to do it? Give me [inaudible 00:19:21] I see you. But how are you going to do it? [inaudible 00:19:22] Turn the lights on him.
In that video, you see Travis Scott encouraging someone who’s standing on the upper levels to jump into the crowd. And during that very concert, somebody was pushed and was incredibly badly injured because of his conduct.
Next slide. Here’s a tweet Travis Scott sent out before another concert where he’s encouraging people who don’t have tickets to crash through the security and come to the concert anyway. Next slide.
Speaker 11: (20:19)
That’s just a small snippet of the video to encourage concert goers to attend Astroworld. This was video from previous Astroworld’s concerts. It’s utter chaos, utter chaos that’s encouraged not only by Travis Scott, but by everybody involved in putting the concert on.
Now, this tweet was reported and we haven’t been able to confirm, and maybe you can, whether this tweet is legit, but here we have a tweet from the Houston Police Department where they acknowledge that the security at Astroworld concert was insufficient. And you’ll also notice, if you go back and you look at Chief Finn or some of the things that he put out in some of the interviews where he talks about how many people he was going to have engaged in assisting with security at Astroworld and how that number changed based on when he was interviewed. I encourage you to look at that. We also know that it’s been reported by the New York Times that allegedly our police chief met with Travis Scott or Travis Scott’s people indicating concern about some of the things that have been said and things that have been done leading up to the concert.
Next slide. And we know-
Speaker 11: (21:59)
And we know that when the gates were opened, in the early afternoon of November 5th, that was the scene.
Speaker 11: (22:08)
I ask you, does that look safe? Does that look organized? Well run? Does that look like somebody took the time, effort, energy to properly plan a concert to keep the individuals who pay their money and attend safe? Or does that look like utter chaos? And if it was like that in the early afternoon [inaudible 00:22:58] provided statements saying that the screening was non existent, that there was no COVID screening. There was no security screening. That people were just being let in, bags weren’t checked. People were smoking weed rampant throughout the concert, and that people were taking drugs. There were no management of that event whatsoever. It was pure and utter chaos. And had they told the people attending that that was going to be what it was like, most of them would not have attended.
All over the internet, we see, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media sites, the utter chaos that existed on that night. We see Travis Scott continuing to perform while EMTs and other first responders are trying to save people’s lives. We know specifically with regard to Axel Acosta, we know that the individuals trying to save his life did not have what they needed to save that young man’s life. There weren’t enough people to help him. They did not have the right equipment and he did not need to die.
I’m not going to show all the various video that we’ve collected. It’s all over the internet, but no one who sees that video would have wanted to be at that concert had they known that’s what it was going to be like. And that brings me to Axel Acosta. He had just turned 21. He was incredibly good at computers. He had just transferred to a new university. He was going to school with his brother, Joel. He comes from an extremely close family. His grandmother and grandfather are devastated just as is his uncle, and aunt, brother, and father. This was needless. It was unnecessary and could have easily been prevented. We expect to file a lawsuit either today or tomorrow, the next couple of days. We want to make sure we get it right. We want to make sure that everybody is included that needs to be included. In this lawsuit, we intend to change the way concerts are put on, organized, promoted, and managed in the United States and in the world. It’s our goal to make sure that this good, decent, solid young man did not die for nothing.
I’m going to give you a couple of questions with Edgar. I told him that… As you can imagine, this is crushing for him. He has an appointment this afternoon with the funeral home to make arrangements so his son can go back home.
Speaker 13: (27:03)
[foreign language 00:27:03].
Speaker 12: (27:03)
[foreign language 00:27:03]
Edgar Acosta: (27:03)
[foreign language 00:27:00].
Speaker 14: (27:03)
Speaker 15: (27:03)
Wait. We’re not doing it that way. We’re not yelling at him.
Is there any way to get a… ?
Speaker 16: (27:42)
Mr. Acosta… ?
Just wait a minute, please. We’re going to take two more questions. Yes, go ahead.
Speaker 17: (27:48)
Mr. Acosta, we just wanted to know, how did you learn about your son’s passing? We understand that it took some time for him to be identified.
Edgar Acosta: (27:58)
Yes. It took some time because I was… As soon as we received the news, I was trying to get ahold of him. I called to his hotel. They told me that he didn’t spend the night. That’s why I started calling the sheriff office, the reunification. They told me, “Mr. Acosta, your son is not on the list, so you don’t have to worry about anything. He’s not on the list from the dead people or injured people.” I told them, “Well, he didn’t spend the night in his hotel, so I’m worried about him.” Then my son, he found his phone… In the lost and found, right?
Speaker 18: (28:51)
Edgar Acosta: (28:51)
We tried to call again and ask for him, for the body without identification. We called the hospital to call the sheriff’s office and they told me, “No. We have all the names on the list, and he’s not on the list.”
Speaker 19: (29:11)
Mr. Acosta, could you please us… ?
No, just a minute. I want to make sure we’re clear about something. When the Acosta family, when their son’s name was not on the list, he also inquired, is there anybody who is unidentified? Because they figured out that Axel’s phone was in lost and found, and Axel was not the kind of young man that didn’t answer his phone or did not stay in touch with his brother or his dad. He stayed in touch with his brother and father, so they knew something was up when they found out that he did not spend the night in the hotel.
That is absolutely not like Axel. That’s not like Axel. He does not drink. He does not do drugs. He does not stay out all hours of the night. When they inquired, well, are there any… Has anybody been recovered that you don’t know who they are? And he was told no, that there wasn’t, and it was only until they found the picture going around on the internet that they realized that a member of their family had died. It wasn’t just the fact that his son had died, his brother had died, but it was the way they found out about… It was just horrific. We’ll do one more question.
Speaker 19: (30:41)
Mr. Acosta, could you please tell us, first, what do you hope to accomplish with this lawsuit? And what do you want the world to know about your son?
Edgar Acosta: (30:49)
I think that the lawyer already said that we’re trying to make things change in these type of events, because it could have… Today, it’s me. I lost my son. It could be you, it could be you… When you send your kid to have some fun, and because somebody else is not providing the right… I don’t know how to explain, but… The right security, because it’s not the first time that he’s been in a big event, right? You can go to Disneyland and have fun. You can go to a baseball game and have fun, right? Because they have the right security, the right people, some people assisting injuries… It’s hard to explain.
Speaker 19: (32:22)
Would you like the world to know about your son?
Edgar Acosta: (32:27)
He was a great kid, excellent student. He was looking for his family. He lost his grandparents. He was trying to study and going to school to be… He was trying to be an engineer, a computer programmer, because he wanted to provide for his family. He really cares about… He was the first grandkid. He was the oldest one. He always took care of his other cousin and nieces.
Speaker 19: (33:56)
Thank you. [foreign language 00:33:59].
Say a little bit of that in Spanish.
Edgar Acosta: (33:59)
[foreign language 00:33:59].
What we’re asking those that watch this interview is if you have information, if you were at the concert and you have key information, information at least that you believe is key, contact our office. We want to talk to you. We believe that the video on TikTok, on Instagram, on Facebook is going to be key to this case, and we ask that if you have such video that you provide it to us. If you have information, provide it to us. We’re easy to find. You should also know, I think as we speak here, there is a hearing going on in court for a temporary restraining order to restrain the various entities that are being sued, to preserve all the evidence, and to make sure that Travis Scott preserves all of the texts and so forth on his telephone, or telephones, and hopefully we will get that relief that we are seeking. With that, that is all we’re going to do today. Thank you.
Speaker 20: (35:29)
[inaudible 00:35:29] hearing. Is that happening now?
It’s happening right now.
Speaker 20: (35:31)
In which court?
I think the ancillary judge is Judge Sandhill.
Speaker 20: (35:41)
Is it your… ?
There are a lot of different lawsuits.
Speaker 20: (35:42)
Okay. Thanks very much.