FAMU blames Robert Champion for his own death

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Florida A&M University is not responsible for drum major Robert Champion’s hazing death, according to a court document filed Monday night.

Champion himself is.

In a 23-page motion seeking dismissal of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Champion’s family in Orange County circuit court, FAMU’s attorneys laid out a blunt response:

Champion was a 26-year-old leader in FAMU’s famous marching band who knew the dangers of hazing. He had signed an anti-hazing pledge with the university months before he was beaten aboard a charter bus in Orlando last fall.

He had witnessed two other students submit to the brutal ritual immediately before him. And for several months previously, Champion had debated with his friend and fellow drum major Keon Hollis about whether to go through with it — ostensibly, to gain the respect of his fellow musicians.

FAMU’s legal team contends that the school should not be blamed when the young man died doing something he knew was against state law and university policy. The university’s attorneys cited Hollis’ sworn statement, released last week, that explained the reasons why he and Champion agreed to be hazed after the Florida Classic football game in Orlando on Nov. 19.

“In the final analysis, neither Mr. Champion, Mr. Hollis, hotel security, nor law enforcement experts — with all their specialized crime prediction and prevention training and resources — were able to predict or prevent this shocking and depraved hazing incident, and therefore, it would be unfair and illogical to hold FAMU to a different and higher level of omnipotence,” according to the document, authored by attorney Rick Mitchell of GrayRobinson of Orlando.

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