A prosecutor says 13 people will be charged in the death of a Florida A&M university drum major who died after being beaten during a hazing ritual in November. Florida State Attorney Lawson Lamar announced the charges at a news conference Wednesday. The charges come more than five months after 26-year-old Robert Champion died aboard a chartered bus parked outside an Orlando hotel.
Detectives say Champion was hazed by band members following a performance, and witnesses told emergency dispatchers Champion was vomiting before he was found unresponsive aboard the bus.
The medical examiner’s office says Champion had bruises to his chest, arms, shoulder and back. His internal bleeding caused him to go into shock, which killed him.
Lamar said he would not immediately release the names of those charged because not all suspects had been arrested. Lamar said the majority of the suspects would be charged with hazing with death, which carries a maximum sentence of six years.
20 other people could also be charged with hazing in incidents unrelated to Champion’s death in which there were no serious injuries.
Robert Champion’s parents had called for the prosecution of those responsible for their son’s death. Christopher Chestnut, an attorney for Champion’s parents, said news of the prosecution “is bittersweet.”
Champion’s parents, have sued the company that owns the bus where the hazing took place. In a civil suit, Champion’s family alleges that the bus driver stood guard outside the bus while the hazing took place. The bus company owner initially said the bus driver was helping other band members with their equipment when the hazing took place. FAMU’s world famous “Marching 100” band been suspended indefinitely.
Robert Champion attended Southwest Dekalb High School. A female Southwest Dekalb student who was also a FAMU band member left the school after she reported being hazed by band members which resulted in her suffering a broken thigh.
More in this report from CBS News