Lawsuit in FAMU Death Reveals Details of Hazing

The wrongful-death suit describes two types of hazing that took place before Robert Champion died.

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Robert Champion (Florida A&M University)

The Associated Press is reporting that the parents of the Florida A&M band member who died after being hazed have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the owner and driver of the charter bus where the ritual took place. They have also released details about what might have happened the night Robert Champion died.

The suit describes two types of hazing that took place before Champion died. During the first, pledges of a band clique known as "Bus C" run from the front to the back of the bus while other band members slap, kick and hit them, the lawsuit said. A pledge who falls can be stomped and dragged to the front of the bus to run again.

In another ritual known as "the hot seat," a pillow case was placed over the pledge's nose and mouth while the pledge was forced to answer questions. If a pledge got a right answer, the pillow case was removed briefly; a pledge with a wrong answer was given another question without a chance to take a breath, the lawsuit said.

A fellow pledge who was hazed with Champion said band members on the bus treated Champion more brutally than others, according to the lawsuit.

An attorney for the Champion family said he doesn't know exactly why he was on the bus. Champion was a drum major, a leader in the band, and had been a vocal opponent of hazing, attorney Chris Chestnut said.

Champion suffered blunt trauma blows and he died from shock caused by severe bleeding, authorities said. Detectives are investigating the death as a homicide.

The lawsuit said bus company managers knew that FAMU band members held hazing rituals regularly on buses after football games but did nothing to stop them, and they often times told bus drivers to ignore the hazing.

The details outlined in the suit are truly disturbing. We hope that Champion’s family finds justice while shedding light on this reprehensible tradition.

Read more at the Associated Press.

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