Friday, October 19, 2018

Police report sheds little light on FSU fraternity death

As questions swirl around the high-profile death of a fraternity pledge at Florida State University, Tallahassee police have released eight pages of the department's initial investigation.

Mostly redacted, the document sheds little light on what happened at an off-campus party before police arrived to find 20-year-old Andrew Coffey unresponsive. But it appears to indicate a long gap between when the incident began, and when police were alerted.

According to the report, the incident began or occurred around 1:30 a.m. Friday.

Nearly nine hours later, police got a 911 call at 10:22 a.m. and arrived at the house on tree-shaded Buena Vista Drive, about a mile northwest of campus, within 14 minutes. First responders gave Coffey medical treatment, but he died. His body was driven away in a hearse around noon, according to reports from the Tallahassee Democrat.

Police interviewed at least three people at the scene, according to the document, though the exchanges are fully redacted.

A long "narrative" section that would explain the incident spans three pages. It is also redacted in full.

The department released the information, however constrained, in a show of transparency. In a statement, police said the investigation remains a priority as officers continue to interview witnesses and pore over evidence.

"We ask everyone to remember a young man lost his life in this incident and it has affected our community as a whole," the department wrote on Facebook.

Coffey, of Pompano Beach, was a pledge of Pi Kappa Phi.

The Tallahassee Democrat has reported that neighbors said there was a party at the house on Thursday night, and that police collected beer bottles from the porch as evidence.

The city's police chief, Michael DeLeo, said this week that investigators have interviewed more than 50 people. He said police are waiting on autopsy results for a cause of death.

Coffey's death, along with another student's unrelated drug arrest, prompted Florida State University President John Thrasher to suspend all Greek life on campus indefinitely.

He asked for a pause to reflect on the "loss of a young life," and said students must create a new campus culture. In the meantime, fraternity and sorority chapters cannot participate in many usual activities such as recruitment, tailgates and chapter meetings.

"For this suspension to end, there will need to be a new normal for Greek life at the university," Thrasher said at a news conference. He left it up to students' behavior to determine when the ban will be lifted.

Those who do not comply with the interim suspension could be disciplined immediately, the university said. Thrasher said it is up to students to determine when the temporary ban will be lifted.

"They must work with us and demonstrate they fully understand the serious obligation they have to exercise responsible conduct," he said.

The Greek ban affects nearly 7,600 students, or about 22 percent of undergraduates, spread across 28 fraternities and 26 sororities.

Thrasher also banned alcohol at all registered student organization events.

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