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Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion dies after suspected hazing incident, family to sue

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(CBS/AP) MIAMI, Fla. - An attorney said the family of  Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion is suing the school after he passed Saturday in a suspected hazing accident.

Attorney Christopher Chestnut said the family will spend the holiday weekend planning their loved one's funeral.

Chestnut said Champion's family hopes filing a lawsuit against the school will help raise awareness around the problem of band hazing.

Champion, 26, was found on a bus in Orlando Saturday night after the school's football team lost to a rival. According to police, Champion had been vomiting and complained that he couldn't breathe night before he collapsed.

Police say they think some form of hazing was going on before someone called 911 the night of his death. Chestnut said he believes the injuries his client sustained were consistent with hazing.

The cause of the drummer's death has not been determined. Preliminary autopsy results were inconclusive. It could also take up to three months to figure out exactly what killed him, a spokesperson for the Orange County medical examiner's office said.

After Champion's death, the school stopped the marching band's and music department's performances. The next day, longtime band director Julian White was fired and Florida Gov. Rick Scott said the state investigators would join the case.

The university has announced an independent review led by a former state attorney general.

The is not the first time hazing cases have appeared in marching bands, especially at historically black colleges where a marching band spot is something to be coveted almost as much as a spot on the sports team itself.

"This is not an isolated incident," said Chestnut.

According to reports, there have been multiple cases at FAMU, including one in 2001, where Marcus Parker suffered kidney damage after being beaten by a paddle.

Any death involving hazing is a third-degree felony in Florida.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the school could not be reached Friday morning for a comment.


  • Crimesider Staff

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