Hazing in the Florida A&M University Marching Band appears to have run rampant for years, but why was the hazing doled out to drum major Robert Champion so severe that it killed him? An attorney for Champion's family now claims Champion might been targeted for harsher hazing in part because he was gay.
Champion was found dead aboard the band's bus in Orlando shortly after the unit performed at a football halftime game. The autopsy "revealed extensive contusions of his chest, arms, shoulder, and back with extensive hemorrhage." The injuries were so severe that Champion went into shock.
Now CBS reports that Chris Chestnut, an attorney for Champion's family, claims Champion might have been targeted because he was gay:
Some of the students tell Chestnut they were also hazed that night, but none as severely as Champion. They say he was singled out, possibly because he was both a vocal opponent of hazing and a band disciplinarian, and gay.
"It may or may not have been" his sexual orientation which saw him singled out, says Chestnut, allowing only that it is a "possibility."
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The revelation opens the door that anyone involved in the hazing could possibly now face additional hate crime charges in addition to charges related to hazing and Champion's homicide.
Chestnut also says students aboard "bus C," the bus Champion rode, were specifically targeted for hazing. Students aboard the bus were told to run from the back of the bus to the front and "pray to God they make it off."
Champion's family has announced plans to sue FAMU and now plans to also file suit against the company that operated the charter bus.