Florida Charges 13 in Death of FAMU Drum Major

STORY HIGHLIGHTS: Case does not support murder charges, prosecutor said. A state attorney announced the charges Wednesday. One person in custody; one being sought out of state. Robert Champion died after he was beaten on a bus in November.

Courtesy of CNN:


(CNN) — Florida authorities have brought felony charges against 13 people in what they called the hazing death of Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion, a prosecutor announced Wednesday.

“Robert Champion died as a result of being beaten,” State Attorney Lawson Lamar said. “His death is not linked to one sole strike but is attributed to multiple blows.”

Joyce Dawley, the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Orlando division, said one person was in custody and one was being sought out of state. Sheriff’s deputies and the FDLE were looking for the other 11 within Florida, she said.

The 13 face felony hazing charges. There were also 20 misdemeanor charges filed in the case, but it was not immediately clear how those specifically applied to the suspects.

Champion collapsed in Orlando on the bus, which was carrying members of FAMU’s Marching 100 after a November football game that included a halftime performance by the group.

Medical examiners ruled his death a homicide, saying he died “within an hour of a hazing incident during which he suffered multiple blunt trauma blows to his body.”

“This is a homicide by hazing,” Lamar said.

The case built by investigators “does not support a charge of murder,” Lamar said in Orlando.

But it fits a state law that makes a hazing that results in death a felony with possible prison time up to five years. Under that law, the prosecution “only has to prove two things: participation in hazing and a death.”

“His death is not linked to one single strike,” the prosecutor said of Champion.

Authorities declined to name those charged because most were still being sought.

Parents: Champion a “poster child” for anti-hazing

Some university band members have said Champion, 26, died after taking part in an annual rite of passage called “Crossing Bus C,” an initiation process in which pledges attempt to run down the center aisle from the front door of the bus to the back while being punched, kicked and assaulted by senior members.

Band camp, other clubs suspended

An autopsy found “extensive contusions of his chest, arms, shoulder and back,” as well as “evidence of crushing of areas of subcutaneous fat,” which is the fatty tissue directly under the skin.

Family sues bus company, driver

The death prompted the university board of trustees to approve an anti-hazing plan that includes an independent panel of experts to investigate.

Source: CNN

This goes back to the original story: #75 IN THE NEWS: Marching Band Hazing Death in Florida. Horrid story which deserves justice. Yet, as always, I’m positive those partaking in Champion’s death had no intention of the consequential end result.

It’s not hazing. It’s brotherhood.

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