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New evidence in FAMU drum major’s death

  • Written by NNPA News Service
  • Published in News

robert-championRobert Championby Latoya Burgess

In recent weeks, Florida medical examiners have deemed the official cause of death for Florida A&M University (FAMU) drum major, Robert Champion, as "hemorrhagic shock due to force blunt trauma."

This comes after the 26-year-old was brutally beaten during a hazing incident last fall when fellow bandmates sought to "initiate" Champion into the band.

Witnesses told police that after the 2011 Florida Classic football game in Orlando, Fla., Champion boarded a bus where bandmates waited to "cross over" the drum major. The tradition of 'crossing over' is where new band members (initiates) make their way through a herd of people throwing kicks and punches. Last week, witnesses added that those punches and kicks were accompanied by blows with drumsticks and mallets.

After the beating, Champion collapsed on the bus and was pronounced dead a short time later. He was a first-year drum major.

Police currently hold more than 2,000 pages of interviews with defendants and witnesses who were on board the bus that day.

In other related news, last Friday (June 1), an Orlando judge denied a motion by The Associated Press and the Orlando Sentinel to release probable cause affidavits used to arrest the 13 defendants charged in Champion's death. Officials say their refusal is based on the fact that the records are part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

(Special to the NNPA from The Miami Times)

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