FAMU drum major to be buried amid new hazing details



ORLANDO, Fla.,None - The Florida A&M University drum major who died in Orlando will be buried in Atlanta on Wednesday.

As the investigation into the death of 26-year-old Robert Champion continues, disturbing new details about what may have happened to him are emerging.

Champion collapsed and died after performing with the Marching 100 nearly two weeks ago at the Florida Classic at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Champion was found unresponsive on a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel after the school's football team lost to rival Bethune-Cookman.

Police said Champion had been vomiting and complained he couldn't breathe shortly before he collapsed. While the official cause of death hasn't been determined, law enforcement officials said they believe some form of hazing took place before 911 was called.

Attorney Christopher Chestnut, who is representing Champion's family,  said Monday that a lawsuit against the university will be filed. He said the family wants to raise awareness of the issue of hazing in college bands.

WFTV obtained a copy of a 1998 police report in which now-fired band director Dr. Julian White said he told administrators at FAMU he needed help controlling hazing.

"Anybody can tell you, my story is hazing, you have to stop hazing," said White in a recent interview.

In the report, FAMU clarinet player Ivery Luckey told police he was severely beaten by a group within the band known as the "Clones."

Luckey's organs shut down after he was beaten by 25 to 30 people, mostly girls, he was forced to: "Lay on the floor with only his toes and elbows touching the floor."

He said usually two people at a time took turns beating him with paddles. Luckey said he took about 300 blows in one night.

Court documents WFTV obtained show the university's attorney fought to get the lawsuit filed against the school dismissed saying, "The assault took place off campus" and "the injuries were not legally caused by FAMU (The University)."

Another FAMU band member spoke exclusively to WFTV's Daralene Jones, saying that she told police she was hazed just days before Champion died.

Bria Hunter said the band has "underground" groups that go by nicknames like the "Clones," the "Red Dogs" and "The Gustapos" and it's these groups that perform the hazing rituals.

Champion mentored several members of the band, including Hunter, before he was allegedly hazed to death.

"He would always tell me, like, don't let people do it to you," said Hunter.

Hunter was afraid to give details about what she says "high ranking" band members did to her.

But according to a police report, Hunter's initiation period started in September and didn't end until she was rushed to the emergency room in November, 11 days before Champion's death.

Around the same time, 26 members of the band were suspended by Dr. White for hazing.

Hunter said she was beaten at least three times this semester.

The two suspects named in her case were redacted from the police report because Tallahassee police are still investigating.

"Why do you guys still participate, in this, this hazing process?" Jones asked. 

 "So we can be accepted. If you don't do anything, then, it's like, you're 'lame," said Hunter.

Hunter said at the time she was being hazed, 10 or 11 other students were suffering the same fate.

All of these hazing allegations are bringing change to the FAMU campus. The university president issued a statement Tuesday and said the school would, "Honor the memory of Robert Champion by establishing a strong, safe, new set of traditions in the culture of the music program and bands and across the campus."

The president promised to hold a campus-wide assembly next week to get everyone on board.


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