More than two months after the Astroworld crowd-control disaster claimed the lives of 10 people, the Houston Police Department on Friday asked attendees to upload their photos and video to a new dedicated website designed by the FBI.
“To ensure that we have captured all possible evidence for a complete investigation, we have partnered with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for additional technical assistance,” Houston Police said in a statement, adding that detectives previously reviewed “countless hours” of video, just not through such a sophisticated repository.
“I think this took far too long. They should have hit the gas immediately upon starting the investigation,” Dr. Darrin Porcher, a former NYPD lieutenant and adjunct professor at Pace University’s School of Criminal Justice, says. Porcher adds that the two-month delay suggests “the chain of command kind of fell asleep at the wheel.”
Porcher, who’s serving as an expert to Hilliard Martinez Gonzalez LLP, a plaintiffs’ law firm already representing more than 700 Astroworld attendees, says the FBI has a large field office covering the Houston area with resources that would be well-known to local police.
“For the life of me, I can’t understand why this wasn’t done immediately, because they clearly understood the police department only has so many people. You’re conducting an investigation with 50,000 people at one location. It’s clear, and it’s apparent, that the Houston Police Department didn’t have the ability to get this done, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Porcher said. “They didn’t drive it as quickly as they should have.”
The new FBI website asks concertgoers to upload a maximum of four files and share their name and contact information.
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) January 14, 2022
Asked if the two-month delay might mean valuable images and video might already be deleted and gone forever, lawyer Alex Hilliard said he didn’t think so.
“The plaintiff lawyers have been diligently obtaining all of this information, so to the extent that prosecutors need it and are asking for it, it’s already within organized, available portals that exits in a lot of the firms,” Hilliard tells Rolling Stone. “In the next couple of weeks, there will be a lot of information provided to prosecutors to establish that there was absolute criminal activity which occurred in this case.”
The terrifying Astroworld crowd crush killed eight people on Nov. 5, the first night of Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival at NRG Park in Houston. Two more people, including 9-year-old Ezra Blount, later died from their injuries.
The panoply of lawsuits filed over the tragedy name concert promoter Live Nation, Scott and various concert security vendors among the lead defendants.
Live Nation and Scott have denied any wrongdoing. In a video message posted on Instagram, Scott, whose legal name is Jacques Webster, said he “could just never imagine the severity of the situation.” His partner Kylie Jenner, mother of his daughter Stormi, also released a statement saying she and Scott were “broken and devastated.”