Florida Drum Major's Family Wants Swift Justice for Hazing Homicide

PHOTO: On the day Robert Champion died, he texted his parents a photograph of himself with a young boy from a childrens marching band.
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The death of Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion was declared a homicide by hazing today and the musician's family tonight called for the culprits to be "swiftly brought to justice."

The family made clear they did not want to punish the school's famous marching band.

"We don't want to stop the music," the statement said. "We want to stop the hazing."

Champion's autopsy revealed he died of internal bleeding caused by blunt force trauma, according to The Associated Press. Officials told the AP Champion had bruises on his chest, arms, shoulder and back.

The 26-year-old died Nov. 19 on a bus outside a hotel after the band had performed at a football game in Orlando.

"The Champion family's worst fears were realized tonight when their son Robert's death was ruled a homicide by hazing," the victim's family said. "We now hope that all those responsible for this act will swiftly be brought to justice. Our goal is that no other family will have to live through this pain."

The family's attorney, Christopher Chestnut, told the AP, "justice needs to be swift and immediate."

"We're not calling for dismantling of the band," he said. "There needs to be high-level scrutiny. The students are adults, but they're young adults."

Four band members were subsequently dismissed from FAMU in connection with the Champion incident, and then reinstated.

"Homicide investigators have interviewed the vast majority of the individuals present during this incident. In the coming days and weeks investigators will be working with the State Attorney's Office to identify the charges that are applicable," the Orange County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Because of the hazing probe, investigators stumbled on to other alleged improprieties at the school, and officials are currently investigating the school for potential fraud and misconduct.

The director of the school's Marching 100 band, Julian White, was fired and then put on administrative leave pending an investigation from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Last week FAMU's board of trustees reprimanded school president James Ammons for the way he dealt with hazing, but students rallied in support of Ammons Thursday night to protest the board's recommendation that Ammons be suspended immediately.

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