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Radiohead 'Appalled' Court Stayed Charges Over Toronto Stage Collapse Death

'This is an insult to Scott Johnson, his parents and our crew.’
Mack Lamoureux
Toronto, CA
September 8, 2017, 2:28pm
Photo by Tara Walton/Toronto Star via Getty Images.

Thom Yorke said that words "utterly failed" him upon learning about charges laid in response to the death of a Radiohead drum technician shortly before a Toronto show have been stayed.

"We are appalled by the decision to stay the charges against Live Nation, Optex Staging, and Domenic Cugliari," reads the band's statement. "This is an insult to Scott Johnson, his parents and our crew.

"It offers no consolation, closure, or assurance that this kind of accident will not happen again."


In 2012, the band was gearing up to play a sold out show at Downsview Park—an urban national park just outside of Toronto. While in the final stages of set up, the stage lighting collapsed and came down on 33-year-old Scott Johnson. Three others were injured alongside Johnson but the man from Doncaster, England, was the only one killed. At the time of his death, the band said in a statement they had been "shattered" by his loss.

"He was a lovely man, always positive, supportive and funny; a highly skilled and valued member of our great road crew. We will miss him very much."

A year later, in 2013, the Ontario Ministry of Labour laid 13 charges against Live Nation, Optex Staging & Services Inc, and engineer Domenic Cugliari. The charges alleged that Live Nation and OPtex failed to ensure that the stage was, essentially, designed safely. Cugliari was charged with endangering an employee.

All parties denied the claims.

The case sat in the court for four years—which was exasperated by the original trial judge stepping down because he moved to a higher court and a mistrial being called. In her ruling staying the charges, Judge Ann Nelson said she came to her decision because of the exorbitant length of time had violated the defendant's right to be tried in a reasonable time. This was not a decision that was looked upon favourably by the British rock band.

The band Caribou, who were set to play the show with Radiohead, likewise had a strong reaction to the decision. In a tweet they said that they were "standing behind this stage when it collapsed and would have been on it an hour later."

"This is complete bullshit," the band tweeted.

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