The Florida A&M band members responsible for brutally beating Robert Champion on a band bus have been charged with felony and misdemeanor hazing.
In total, 13 FAMU students have been charged. Eight students were charged with felony hazing for inflicted the most sever physical punishment on Champion. Florida State Attorney Lawson Lamar said 11 of the suspects would be charged with hazing with death, a felony which carries a maximum sentence of six years. He said the evidence in the case would not support a charge of murder.
“Hazing is a term for bullying,” Lamar said. “It is a tradition we cannot tolerate in America.”
He said 20 other people would be charged with hazing in unrelated incidents in which there were not serious injuries.
Lamar called 26-year-old Champion’s death “nothing short of an American tragedy.” In the November 2011 fracas following a football game, Champion was savagely pummeled until they ruptured tissue and caused internal bleeding.
None of the names of the individuals will be released to the media, the spokesperson said, until they are apprehended for fear that the suspects will flee prosecution.
Back in suburban Atlanta, Champion’s parents were disappointed they were not notified in time to be able to travel to Florida to attend the news conference. However, “the family’s position is if indeed there are charges tomorrow, it’s been a long time in coming,” Christopher Chestnut, an attorney for Champion’s parents, said Tuesday evening. “It is bittersweet. Obviously it’s comforting to know that someone will be held accountable for Robert’s murder, but it’s also disconcerting to think of the impact of the future of these students. This is just unfortunate all the way around.”
Stay tuned for further developments.