Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Public safety

FAMU band member from Tampa faces hazing charge

A Florida A&M University marching band drummer from Tampa — who was "president" on the Marching 100's infamous Bus C where Robert Champion was pummeled to death — faces a hazing charge for a separate incident that left a female drummer too woozy to perform.

Dante Martin, 25, is the 14th member of the ensemble to be charged with felony or misdemeanor hazing in the wake of the homicide investigation that led to the suspension of the band.

The previously undisclosed case against Martin is contained in nearly 150 pages of evidence released Wednesday by the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office, which is prosecuting 11 people on felonies and two others on misdemeanors in the death of Champion, 26, a drum major.

Champion died Nov. 19 after a hazing aboard Bus C that was parked outside the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando.

Martin, who is not charged in Champion's death, referred questions to an attorney.

State Attorney spokeswoman Danielle Tavernier said Martin has not been arrested. He faces a charge of misdemeanor hazing, punishable by up to a year in jail.

According to investigative documents, Martin held the informal title of "president" on Bus C, which transported the percussion section and where Champion fell unconscious after an acceptance ritual known as "Crossing Over." Detectives said the bus president is responsible for arranging hazing events.

Investigators noted in an 89-page summary last week that Martin declined to provide a statement about what happened on Bus C with Champion. At least four people interviewed by detectives identified him as one of the people on the bus when Champion was hazed, but none could say what, if anything, he did.

The misdemeanor charge involves a hazing incident en route to the Citrus Bowl.

Requesta Harden, 21, a drummer from Pompano Beach, told investigators she was riding on Bus C from the band's hotel to the stadium where the band was to perform at a football game between FAMU and Bethune-Cookman University. She said Martin directed her to the back for a rite known as the "hot seat."

"In the hot seat, they put a blanket over my head and I was, like, in the crash position and then they start beating me," Harden told investigators.

Harden, woozy from the beating, said she "blanked out" at the stadium and could not perform.

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