Family members of a Florida A&M University marching band member who died in Orlando following a suspected hazing attack announced a lawsuit against the university during a news conference Monday in Atlanta.
Attorney Christopher Chestnut, who is representing Robert Champion's family, said FAMU will be sued because "all the evidence points to the fact that hazing was a cause in the drum major's death and it happened on FAMU's watch."
"The culture of hazing is, 'Don't ask, don't tell,' " said Chestnut, who was joined by Champion's parents. "The family is saying, 'Please tell.' "
Chestnut said the pervasive culture of hazing is "being protected at FAMU." FAMU didn't immediately respond to comment. But FAMU president James Ammons spoke publicly shortly after Champion's death, denouncing hazing and announcing a task force to investigate and end hazing.
He fired the band's longtime director Julian White several days later.
On Monday, Pamela Champion told reporters she hopes the suit will help hazing victims come forward and compel university officials to act
"It needs to stop and we want it to stop," she said. "No one wants to be standing in our shoes."
Chestnut said he submitted a notice of intent to file a wrongful death lawsuit — the first step in suing a public entity in Florida — but the actual lawsuit will be filed in six months.
Champion, 26, died at an Orlando hospital Nov. 19 after a suspected hazing attack on a bus outside the marching band's hotel following the Florida Classic.
No arrests have been made.
His initial autopsy results were inconclusive and a investigation is ongoing.
An earlier version of this story misstated the date of Robert Champion's death due to a reporting error.
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