The Florida State Attorney’s Office has charged 13 individuals in the hazing death of DeKalb-native Robert Champion.
Champion, a student at Florida A&M University who was a member of the school’s famous “Marching 100” band, was found unresponsive on the band’s bus on Nov. 19, 2011. Officials termed his death a homicide resulting from “a hemorrhagic shock due to a soft tissue hemorrhage, incurred by blunt force trauma sustained during a hazing incident.”
Several days after Champion’s death, FAMU band director Julian White was fired. In a press release, FAMU President James Ammons said White was dismissed for “alleged misconduct and incompetence involving confirmed reports and allegations of hazing.”
Eleven people are charged with felony hazing resulting in death, and the other two are charged with hazing misdemeanors. All 11 individuals charged with felony hazing have turned themselves in to various law enforcement agencies throughout Florida.
According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) officials, Aaron Golson, Jessie Baskin, Harold Finley, Bryan Jones, Benjamin McNamee, Shawn Turner, Caleb Jackson, Rikki Wills, Lasherry Codner, Ryan Dean and Jonathan Boyce have turned themselves in. Golson, 19; Boyce, 24; and Turner, 26, are all from metro Atlanta. Turner attended Stephenson High School.
Golson also was arrested in connection with another hazing incident involving a member of FAMUs marching band. Following Champion’s death, band member Bria Shante Hunter alleged band members beat her so badly that she suffered a cracked thighbone and had to be taken to the hospital. This incident allegedly occurred several weeks before the death of Champion.
According to reports, Golson and two others were arrested and charged with assaulting Hunter.
Both Hunter and Champion are graduates of Southwest DeKalb High School and members of a group within the band called the “Red Dawg Order,” made up of members from Atlanta.
Danielle Tavernier, a spokeswoman for the Florida State Attorney’s Office, said the identities of defendants who have not been arrested have not been released because they are not public record.
At a recent press conference in Atlanta, Champion’s parents Robert Sr. and Pam Champion called for the disbanding of the Marching 100.
“FAMU cannot go on with business as usual…they need to clean house,” Pam Champion said.
The family’s lawyer, Christopher Chestnut, said there was a cover up surrounding Champion’s death and FAMU officials coached those involved as to what to tell investigators.