Radiohead's Fatal Toronto Stage Collapse Set for Coroner's Inquest

A new investigation into the 2012 death of drum tech Scott Johnson will begin next year
Radiohead's Fatal Toronto Stage Collapse Set for Coroner's Inquest
Photo: Stephen McGill
Following a long and complicated legal battle, Ontario is finally launching a new inquest into the death of Radiohead drum tech Scott Johnson following a fatal stage collapse in Toronto.

A coroner's inquest into the death of 33-year-old Johnson will begin on March 25 and run for approximately three weeks, the Globe and Mail reports.

As previously reported, Johnson was killed in a stage collapse before Radiohead's performance at Downsview Park in Toronto in 2012. The Ontario Ministry of Labour brought charges against promoter Live Nation, contractor Optex Staging and engineer Domenic Cugliari in 2013.

However, the case was subsequently delayed multiple times for various reasons, and in 2017, an Ontario judge stayed all 10 charges surrounding Johnson's death, ruling that the case's many delays had caused it to take too long to come to trial and thus violated judicial time limits and the defendants' rights.

The lack of any sort of resolution led to a very appalled reaction from Radiohead, who repeatedly expressed outrage over the incident. At the band's Toronto concert this summer, frontman Thom Yorke told the crowd, "We wanted to do a show in Toronto, the stage collapsed, killing one of our colleagues and friends. The people who should be held accountable are still not being held accountable in your city. The silence is fucking deafening."

Last November, Ontario's Chief Coroner announced the mandatory inquest would take place, but did not provide further details at that time. Now a spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Coroner confirmed the March 25 start date to the Globe and Mail.

As publication reports, coroner's counsel Prabhu Rajan told the Globe that he expects all parties — including Radiohead, Optex and Live Nation — to apply for standing, which is explained as "the right to ask questions of witnesses and make submissions directly to the jury, with respect to the nature and scope of its recommendations."

However, the Globe explains that the coroner's inquest's recommendations are non-binding.

Scott Johnson's father, Ken Johnson, told the Globe he remains cautious about the inquest having any sort of effectiveness, saying: "It gives me no satisfaction that the inquest is taking place, but I do trust in the process. I do not expect to learn anything [at the inquest], as the facts were clear and proven in court."

He added: "I hope that a 'Johnson ruling' could be established to allow a judge to have the final word on a Jordan ruling when he has heard all the evidence, that evidence is clear and he has warned the defence for time-wasting repeatedly. The Jordan ruling should have been used to sort all the parking and speeding offences to clear the courts, but to have a ruling that throws out cases that are proven is nuts."

In 2013, Live Nation denied any wrongdoing in the case, saying: "We absolutely maintain that Live Nation and our employees did everything possible to ensure the safety of anyone who was on or near the stage involved in the tragic incident that led to the unfortunate death of Mr. Scott Johnson."