Florida A&M band members charged
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Prosecutors are charging 12 former Florida A&M University band members with manslaughter in the 2011 hazing death of a drum major.
Ten of the band members had been charged last May with felony hazing for the death of 26-year-old Robert Champion, but prosecutors said Monday they are raising the charges to manslaughter. They also have charged two additional defendants with manslaughter.
Champion died in Orlando in November of 2011 after he collapsed following what prosecutors say was a savage beating during a hazing ritual. The incident allegedly happened on a bus parked in a hotel parking lot after Florida A&M played Bethune-Cookman in their annual rivalry football game.
Authorities say Champion had bruises on his chest, arms, shoulder and back and died of internal bleeding. Witnesses told emergency dispatchers that the drum major was vomiting before he was found unresponsive aboard the bus.
Florida A&M hired alumnus Bryan F. Smith as its anti-hazing administrator this past January.
Smith, who most recently was executive director and co-founder of Destined for Success Educational Services in Decatur, Ga., said his goal will be to change a hazing culture on Florida A&M's Tallahassee campus.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.