State Attorney: There will be charges in FSU pledge's death

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By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News
December 20, 2017

Andrew Coffey (Photo: Facebook / CBS News)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Criminal charges against Pi Kappa Phi fraternity members could be coming in the new year, State Attorney Jack Campbell said Wednesday.

"Based on what you know now, will young men be charged in Andrew Coffey's death?"

"Yes," Campbell said.

"Can you say how many? or what those charges may be?"

"I need to go and look at the evidence," Campbell said. "The grand jury's presentment - I understand it very clearly - that they believe crimes were committed here and they want to see the people responsible prosecuted. I have every intention of prosecuting everybody who committed a crime."

FSU Pi Kappa Phi pledge Andrew Coffey died at an off campus party last month. A presentment issued Tuesday revealed his blood alcohol level was six to seven times the legal limit.

The grand jury did not issue any indictments, but leaves the door open for Campbell to go ahead and press charges himself or leave that decision up to a future grand jury.

"I understand that some people were expecting some finality of charging decisions, either yeah or nay," Campbell said. "I think the grand jury was very wise in the way they went about this."

Campbell says he is still waiting on some evidence in the investigation and will ask January's incoming grand jury how it wants to proceed.

"What was the most startling thing to you about Andrew Coffey's death?"

"The senselessness of it. It was a real tragedy. A totally preventable, unacceptable tragedy," Campbell said, "and I'm bothered by the apathy of those around him."

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
December 19, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- WCTV has obtained a copy of the presentment that was written following the Grand Jury held in the aftermath of Andrew Coffey's death.

The presentment was compiled after two days of testimony from close to 50 people, including four brothers and 38 pledges of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, an organization that Coffey was pledging at the time of his death.

According to the presentment, the party in which Coffey died at on November 3 was a Big Brother reveal party. Coffey reportedly drank a bottle of Wild Turkey bourbon.

The presentment says Coffey passed out and was described as being "asleep," on a futon on the porch of the house where the party was taking place. The presentment also states that nobody called for medical attention after Coffey passed out.

The presentment says there was over an 11-minute delay between a fellow pledge attempting to wake up Coffey the following morning and a call for help. Documents say that in that time, text messages and phone calls were made to five fraternity members before 911 was called.

The document also reveals that the members and pledges of Pi Kappa Phi did not fully cooperate with law enforcement as they investigated Coffey's death. 22 pledges and 16 brothers of Pi Kappa Phi spoke with law enforcement, but 19 pledges and 22 brothers refused to be interviewed. Only two of the nine members on the executive council spoke to law enforcement.

At the time of Coffey's autopsy, he was noted at having a blood alcohol level of .447 and that his peak alcohol level had been .558.

The presentment notes that there were "elements of conspiracy and obstructionism surrounding the case," as over 80 people were at the party that evening.

The Grand Jury "heard testimony that most of the pledges and members were more concerned with the fraternity being kicked off campus and/or their own legal liability."

The presentment closes with the Grand Jury stating:

"It is not unreasonable to hold them [Pi Kappa Phi fraternity members and officers] responsible for the decisions they made and the actions they took. We the Grand Jury encourage the Office of the State Attorney to pursue any criminal charges as the evidence will warrant."

State Attorney Jack Campbell told WCTV after the Grand Jury ended that there's a possibility for a second Grand Jury to be held sometime in January.

The Grand Jury also recommended the following:

  • Refresher trainings about hazing and binge-drinking conducted prior to fraternities and sororities resuming activities at FSU.

  • The formation of committees led by a combination of law enforcement, FSU administrators, faculty and staff; and fraternity and sorority members with the goal of increasing awareness regarding the dangers of alcohol and binge-drinking.

  • Florida State University should have the ability through their Student Code of Conduct to require student participation in the conduct process. Without students' participation and honest testimony, it becomes challenging to obtain enough information to sanction chapters and individuals through the University's conduct process.

  • Florida State University should have the ability to adjust their Student Conduct process to allow for the suspension of any student who participates, is in the presence of, or allows him/herself to be hazed, and does not report that hazing or actively participate in the conduct process to adjudicate the incident.

  • Any residence that is used by a registered student organization for living, meeting or social events should provide access to University police officers and other administrators without notice regardless of whether they are privately-owned facilities or not.

  • Increase and strengthen the University's partnership with the City of Tallahassee to cooperatively address off-campus fraternity/sorority functions that fall within their respective jurisdictions.

  • Florida State University should create a Community Scorecard available online and updated each semester. The Scorecard will communicate the performance and standing of individual chapters on a variety of areas, including but not limited to: average GPA of members, dollars raised for philanthropies, average service hours per member, the number of incidents charged through the conduct process, number of findings of responsibility, and the sanctions.

    Wednesday, the State Attorney's Office released the complete presentment. To view the full presentment, click here.

    To view FSU President John Thrasher's statement in response to the Grand Jury, click here.

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