Another hazing tragedy receives it’s day in court. In 2011, Robert Champion, a member of Florida A&M Universities Marching 100, was killed in a routine hazing exercise. Apparently it was common for a member of the band to be hazed or penalized after making a mistake, being late etc. This night was no different, except it went terribly wrong. Champions parents lost their son, students and band members lost their friend and things changed for FAMU and the famous Marching 100 forever.
According to The Huffington Post:
Twelve former Florida A&M University band members were charged Monday with manslaughter in the 2011 hazing death of a drum major.
Ten of the band members had been charged last May with third-degree felony hazing for the death of 26-year-old Robert Champion, but the state attorney’s office said they are adding the charge of manslaughter for each defendant. They also have charged two additional defendants with manslaughter, though they have yet to be arrested.
The second-degree manslaughter charge carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
Champion died in Orlando in November 2011 after he collapsed following what prosecutors say was a savage beating during a hazing ritual. It happened on a bus parked in a hotel parking lot after Florida A&M played Bethune-Cookman in their annual rivalry football game.
Authorities said Champion had bruises on his chest, arms, shoulder and back and died of internal bleeding. Witnesses told emergency dispatchers that the drum major was vomiting before he was found unresponsive aboard the bus.
Christopher Chestnut, an attorney for Champion’s parents, said Pam and Robert Champion, Sr. were pleased with Ashton’s decision to upgrade the charges.
“These charges are commensurate with the acts committed,” Chestnut said. “It sends the right message regarding zero-tolerance of hazing in the FAMU band.”
“The easy way out is you charge them with felony hazing. That’s what they decided to do initially. You’re still holding someone accountable,” Weinstein said. “Now you have somebody new who comes in, takes a look at the evidence, and for a combination of reasons decides the manslaughter charge is warranted.”
Two former band members whose cases were resolved last year weren’t among those charged Monday. Brian Jones and Ryan Dean have already been sentenced after pleading no-contest to third-degree felony hazing last year.
Jones was sentenced last October to six months of community control, which strictly limits his freedom with measures including frequent check-ins with probation officials. He also was given two years of probation and required to perform 200 hours of community service.
Dean was sentenced the following month and received four years of probation and 200 hours of community service.
Since Champion’s death FAMU has made sweeping changes to fight hazing. The band remains suspended and there still has not been a time announced for its return. The university is still searching to find a new director for the band.
The Champions, who live in the Atlanta suburb of Decatur, Ga., claim university officials did not take enough action to stop hazing in the famed Marching 100 band before the death of their son. They rejected a previous offer to settle the case for $300,000.
Via: Huffington Post