The Florida state medical examiner has declared that FAMU drum major Robert Champion died of hazing-related injuries and is calling his death as a homicide.
A Florida A&M University drum major was severely beaten in a hazing incident last month and died within an hour, the state medical examiner said Friday in declaring it a homicide.
Robert Champion, 26, had bruises to his chest, arms, shoulder and back and internal bleeding that caused him to go into shock, which killed him, the office said.
Champion’s Nov. 19 death and the severe beating of another band member during a hazing ritual three weeks earlier have brought new scrutiny to a culture of hazing within the Tallahassee school’s famed Marching 100.
State and local authorities are investigating Champion’s death. Any death involving hazing is a third-degree felony in Florida, but so far no charges have been filed. Three male band members were arrested in a separate probe into the recent beating of a female member whose thigh bone was broken.
Witnesses told 911 that Champion was vomiting before he was found unresponsive aboard a band bus outside an Orlando hotel after the school’s football team lost to rival Bethune-Cookman.
The report by Dr. Sara Irrgang described Champion as “previously healthy” showing “no evidence of natural disease” except for a slightly enlarged heart. Immediately after the hazing, Champion complained of thirst and fatigue, then loss of vision and signs of shock, the report said.
The toxicology report was negative for drugs and alcohol and there was no injury to the internal organs.
Champion’s father, Robert Champion Sr., said he knew his son had been hazed.
“We just need to figure out what we need to do now to get the hazing under control,” Champion told The Associated Press from his home in suburban Atlanta.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog