FAMU band hazing case: Drum major beaten to death with drumsticks, mallets

Dylan Stableford

Robert Champion Jr., the Florida A&M University band member who died last fall following a hazing ritual on a bus, was beaten to death with drumsticks and bass-drum mallets, according to more than 1,500 pages of evidence released by prosecutors on Wednesday.

Eleven band members are facing felony hazing charges in Champion's Nov. 19 death. One of them told investigators that Champion wanted to be hazed.

"It's a respect thing, you know," Jonathan Boyce said, according to a deposition included in the documents released by the Florida District Attorney's Office. "Well, he was wanting to do it all ... all season."

Two initially denied that they were on the bus when Champion was beaten, but one—Caleb Jackson—admitted he was present after a hotel surveillance video showed him exiting the bus.

Keon Hollis, a fellow drum major, told investigators he was subjected to the same hazing ritual Champion was on the bus parked outside an Orlando hotel.

[Y! Big Story: Hazing rites gone wrong]

Champion "seemed fine immediately afterward, but said he was thirsty," Hollis told detectives.

Champion collapsed and later died. According to the autopsy cited by The Associated Press, Champion suffered blunt force trauma to his body and died from shock due to severe bleeding.

Boyce told police that he tried to get Champion off the bus.

"So I grab him to try to keep everybody off him and I grab him and I'm pulling him and I'm pulling him," Boyce told detectives. "People are kicking him so I stopped them from kicking him and I put my body around his body."

FAMU's band has been suspended through the 2012-2013 school year. The band director, who had reportedly warned university officials about hazing, retired on May 10.

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