ORLANDO, FL (RNN) - The parents of a Florida A&M University drum major killed in a hazing incident plans to sue the university and the bus company that was driving the band to a football game in an effort to get official information about their son's death.
Christopher Chestnut, attorney for the family, told reporters Tuesday the bus was "running" when Robert Champion Jr. was beaten to death at the back of the vehicle, according to witness interviews during the family's own investigation.
Chestnut said there are indications the drum major may have been beaten more severely than other band members, but, contrary to rumors, the beating had nothing to do with his sexual orientation.
"This is not a hate crime," Chestnut said. "This is a hazing crime."
The family speculates Champion may have borne a brunt of the abuse due to his serious nature and his tendency to stick to the rules.
"My son loved his music. He was very serious about how he did," said Pam Champion, the victim's mother. "He was a perfectionist and he expected everyone else to be, too."
The family also believes the hazing may have been retaliatory.
"Robert Champion was a poster boy for anti-hazing," Chestnut said.
According to Florida law, the family can't file charges against FAMU until six months have passed, as the school is a public institution. They plan to amend their complaint to include FAMU after the six-month period is over.
Robert Champion died Nov. 19, 2011 from a severe beating, according to the autopsy report. He was 26.
The medical examiner noted that the drum major "collapsed and died within an hour of a hazing incident during which he suffered multiple blunt trauma blows to his body." The death was ruled a homicide.
Robert Champion's death brought the issue of hazing back into the public spotlight and revealed the dark underbelly of the highly acclaimed FAMU Marching 100.
Shortly before his death, three band members were arrested for beating another band member whose thigh bone was broken, allegedly another act of hazing.
Police have yet to charge anyone in Champion's case.
In response to the drum major's death, the FAMU Board of Trustees on Jan. 2 approved of an anti-hazing committee to research how to battle incidents of hazing among students. The committee will not be investigating Champion's death.
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