All Articles Tagged "florida a&m"
As if you didn’t already know, it’s hard to get justice out here.
We told you last September about former Florida A&M football player Jonathan Ferrell, who was gunned down by police officer Randall Kerrick after the young man was seeking help after a car accident. As the story goes, Ferrell’s car crashed into a ravine and in an attempt to get help, he went to a nearby home around 2 a.m., ringing the door bell. The woman of the house was alone when Ferrell arrived at her home, and in a panic, she called police. When police arrived, reports say that Ferrell ran toward police (police use the terminology “advanced toward them”). Of the three officers there, one officer actually tasered Ferrell, while another, Officer Kerrick, the LEAST experienced of all the officers, fired his gun at the young man, shooting him a whopping 10 times. He was the only one to fire his weapon. Ferrell was unarmed and he died at the scene. The young man and former football player was engaged to be married.
Officer Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter, but today, a grand jury decided that they didn’t have enough evidence to bring a case against him. According to the Charlotte Observer, in a rare move, the jury actually asked for lesser charges for Kerrick:
“We the Grand Jury respectfully request that the district attorney submit a bill of indictment to a lesser-included or related offense.”
However, not all of the members of the grand jury were present to make this decision, so the Attorney General, Roy Cooper, plans to resubmit the case to another grand jury. In the meantime, Officer Kerrick gets to go free. His attorney, George Laughrun, told the Observer that Kerrick feels “like the weight of the world has been lifted from his shoulders.”
“He’s extremely relieved that the grand jury members saw fit to keep an open mind and not listen to all the propaganda on all the things he did wrong.
What they decided … was that Officer Randall Kerrick did his job. Regretfully, it cost the life of Jonathan Ferrell. But he did his job.”
But the attorney for Ferrell’s family, Chris Chestnut, say they are understandably shocked and disgusted by the jury’s decision, especially since he says that dashboard cam video (which wasn’t shared with the public) clearly shows that Officer Kerrick overreacted:
“What did the attorney general present to this grand jury and what was omitted? Having seen the video, I cannot believe that the citizens of Charlotte could watch it and not indict. I question whether they were shown it.
There has been nothing to demonstrate that this case has gotten the attention it deserves and needs for the citizens of Charlotte and America.
It’s that important a case. This feels like they don’t value Jonathan’s life.”
Hopefully this case will be brought in front of a new jury very soon and justice can be served for Ferrell and his family. He was unarmed. How was Officer Kerrick “doing his job” by shooting an unarmed man 10 times and firing at him 12 times altogether? Lord, help us.
We told you last year about the late Robert Champion, a 26-year-old drum major at FAMU, who was beaten to death aboard a chartered bus after a performance in late 2011. The beating was a form of hazing, called “crossing Bus C,” according to the Los Angeles Times. As pointed out in reports, Champion had to move past a large group of fellow marching band mates, who hit him with a flurry of punches, drumsticks and other big and small objects. The effects were serious enough that Champion died of his injuries, and an autopsy found that his muscles had taken an immense beating and that he had died of internal bleeding.
More than one year later, and after the suspension of the band, some school staff members (including the school president) resigning and those band members involved being initially charged with third-degree felony hazing, said charges have now been upgraded. Champion’s mother was disappointed in the light charges that were handed out early on, and her opinions were clearly heard (that and more evidence came in), because now 12 marching band members who dealt out the blows that cost Champion his life in the process of trying to cruelly haze him, have now been charged with second-degree manslaughter, which could come with a max of 15 years in prison. Champion’s mother is ecstatic about the upgrade in charges and in the Orlando Sentinel she said that the family is happy that the Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office thought to move charges from hazing to manslaughter, because “Hazing does not depict what was done to my son.” Pam Champion and the drum majors family have been open about their further disappointment with Florida A&M for not taking the right steps to deal with hazing claims and problems reported in the past, before Champion’s death.
According to the Huffington Post, two former band members were able to have their cases resolved late last year, so they were able to avoid the manslaughter charges handed out yesterday. The two young men, Brian Jones and Ryan Dean, were sentenced after facing the original third-degree hazing charge and pleading no contest. Jones was given six months of community control (frequent check-ins on his behavior) an two years of probation with 200 hours of community service. Dean was sentenced to four years probation and the same 200 hours of community service. There’s no telling what their specific role in the hazing against Champion was, and seeing that they were able to get off with not too heavy of a sentence means we’ll have to wait and see if these 12 other individuals really will face jail time. However, whatever happens, hopefully others will learn from this very sad situation and stop hazing, because not only is it traumatizing, as we can all see, it can be deadly.
The longtime director of Florida A&M University’s famed marching band announced his retirement Thursday, while a top state official urged the university to keep the band suspended while investigations continue into a drum major’s death.
The band, its future clouded by the beating death of Robert Champion, appeared unlikely to take the field again anytime soon.
Frank Brogan, the chancellor of Florida’s state university system, wrote a blunt letter to FAMU President James Ammons urging him to keep the band suspended. Ammons was expected to discuss the fate of the band at a special meeting of the university board of trustees planned Monday.
Meanwhile, Ammons disclosed more than 100 band members weren’t even enrolled FAMU students at the time of Champion’s death, a new revelation shaking the Marching 100 whose storied history included performing at Super Bowls and inaugural parades.
Solomon Badger, chairman of the FAMU board, said he hopes Ammons would announce he is keeping the suspension intact for the near future.
Get the rest of the story on BlackVoices.com.
More on Madame Noire!
- Where Are They Now? The Cast of “New York Undercover”
- FLAT CHANCE!: Keep Your Feet Fly In These Flats – EDITOR PICKS
- Remember Adebisi From Oz? Did You Know He Was A Skinhead!
- True Life: He Proposed to Me!
- Made For T.V. Moms: Our Favorite Reality Show Mothers
- And This Is How You Shut Someone Down On-Air Without Being An Angry Black Woman
- Bonjou! 8 Famous Folks You Might Not Have Known Were Creole
Moved by the recent death of Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson says she plans to introduce a federal anti-hazing bill when Congress returns from its holiday break next month.
In Champion’s case, police say he was punched and paddled in a hazing ritual during the school’s Marching 100 band trip to the annual Florida Classic in Orlando. An autopsy report showed that the 26-year-old’s “muscles were beaten so badly that they were destroyed like you would see in a heart attack.” So far, the Marching 100 has been suspended from all activities and its director placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s investigation but Wilson says overall, hazing is demeaning, dangerous, deadly, and needs to be stopped.
The question is whether a law would do any good? Most colleges and universities have policies prohibiting hazing as a means of granting students entrance into fraternities, sororities, and other campus organizations yet the practice still goes on. Some groups get suspended for a semester, maybe even a year, but when the next opportunity rolls around, hazing resumes and vows of silence and solidarity amongst members of these groups keep such practices from being openly exposed although the activity is well-known. So what good would a law do? It could ensure those who are caught hazing endure much stricter punishments, but for any practical change to come about, leaders of these organizations have to take a stance against hazing and truly desire to create alternative means of ushering in new members to a group that don’t threaten their well-being. As long as group members see hazing as a method of proving worth and loyalty, they will just find sneakier ways to go about it.
Do you think an anti-hazing law would stop this activity on college campuses?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
More on Madame Noire!
(Tallahassee.com) — Florida A&M University and other historically black colleges in the state will get an additional $61 million over the next decade under legislation that President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday.