Radiohead Press for 'Justice' in Delayed Case of Dead Tech - Rolling Stone
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Radiohead Press for ‘Justice’ in Delayed Case of Stage Collapse Death

Ontario coroner to launch new inquest after charges in criminal trial were stayed

Radiohead Press for ‘Justice’ in Delayed Case of Stage Collapse DeathRadiohead Press for ‘Justice’ in Delayed Case of Stage Collapse Death

Radiohead pressed for "justice" as Canadian authorities launched a new inquest into the 2012 stage collapse death of their drum tech, Scott Johnson.

Tara Walton/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Radiohead cautiously applauded Canadian authorities for opening a new investigation into the 2012 stage collapse in Toronto that killed the band’s drum tech, Scott Johnson.

“Five years on from the Downsview Park Stage Collapse, we have learned that an inquest into Scott Johnson’s death will be formally announced later today,” the band said in a note posted to social media. “While this is welcomed, it does not bring those responsible for Scott’s death to account, and it provides no justice for Scott and his family. We urge the Canadian authorities to look more closely into their treatment of the Downsview Stage Collapse and indeed all workplace deaths to ensure that accidents such as this can be prevented in the future.”

On Wednesday, the CBC reported that the chief coroner of Ontario would launch an inquest into Johnson’s death. While the results of the inquest reportedly won’t be binding, the coroner’s conclusions could be used to prevent similar accidents from happening in the future.

Johnson, 33, was killed in June 2012 when a piece of outdoor structure fell and crushed him prior to Radiohead’s performance at Downsview Park in Toronto. In 2013, the Ministry of Labour charged Live Nation, the scaffolding company Optex Staging and Services and engineer Domenic Cugliari under Ontario’s Occupational Heath and Safety Act. The case, however, was plagued by delays and in September, a judge stayed the charges, citing Canada’s time trial restrictions, which state that cases in provincial court should go to trial within 18 months.

At the time, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke expressed their disgust with the decision. Over the next few months, the band reportedly began working with Johnson’s parents and British lawmakers to pressure Canadian authorities into opening a new investigation.

Speaking with the CBC, Radiohead drummer Philip Selway recalled the stage collapse and noted that, had things been running on time that day, he would’ve been onstage instead of Johnson when the accident happened. “That is an incredible weight, and personally I can’t let this lie,” Selway said of Johnson’s death. “I want to see a proper conclusion, something that is respectful to Scott.”

Selway also spoke of Radiohead’s responsibility to press Canadian authorities to re-open an investigation into Johnson’s death. “To actually have the ability and kind of a platform when we have been let down by the legal system to actually throw a spotlight on this process, that is incredibly important,” Selway said. “There’s been a failing in the legal system.”

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