Parents of FAMU hazing drum major announce lawsuit, say sexuality not a factor in his death

Jan 10, 2012

In a new twist to the ongoing investigation into the hazing death of a Florida A&M University band member, the family is now saying that he may have been targeted because of his sexuality. Lynn Hatter reports Robert Champion died in November following a football game in Orlando. The family is preparing to sue the bus company that transported the band to and from the game.

FAMU Drum Major Robert Champion was hazed on a bus in the parking lot of an Orlando hotel. An autopsy revealed he died of internal bleeding due to blunt force trauma. The family also confirmed rumors that Champion was gay. The attorney for the band’s director Julian White says given that information, Champion’s death should be looked at as a hate crime. But those remarks drew fire from the Champion family’s attorney Chris Chestnut.

“We’re devastated that a band director would suggest that an institution that he himself, as a leader of the band, is exonerated for the death of a band member on his watch, just because that band member was gay. And that that makes this a hate crime. No. This is hazing.”

The bus company has said while its sorry for Champion’s death, its responsibility is for transport. An investigation into the death is ongoing.