OMERTA

Frat Bros Stayed Silent About Fraternity Hopeful’s Drinking Death

Nine members are charged with hazing, but more than half didn’t talk to investigators about what happened to Andrew Coffey.

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

Dozens of Florida fraternity brothers refused to cooperate with an investigation on a hazing party that turned deadly.

Nine fraternity brothers at Florida State University were arrested Tuesday on hazing charges in connection with the November death of a 20-year-old pledge, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi hopeful, died on November 3 pledge party due to acute alcohol poisoning, according to an autopsy.  

Tallahassee law enforcement said that many of the fraternity members were uncooperative during the investigation process. Only three out of 22 pledges agreed to speak during interviews; 16 out of 38 members agreed to speak during interviews, according to a grand jury presentment (courtesy of Tallahassee Democrat) released this week.

“These arrests are the first step in seeking justice for Andrew and his loved ones, and they will inform us on where we need to place our focus as we proceed,” said Florida State University president John Thrasher in a statement to The Daily Beast.

After Coffey’s death, Florida State suspended all “Greek life” indefinitely. “Florida State does not tolerate hazing, and we are committed to continuing to combat all unsafe and dangerous practices and behaviors on our campus,” said Thrasher.

The national branch of Pi Kappa Phi also ended the university’s chapter shortly after the hazing incident. “We continue to await the conclusion of the criminal proceedings to determine what additional discipline is appropriate for former student members of the chapter,” said Todd Shelton, the organization’s assistant executive director of communication.

Coffey attended  “Big Brother Night” at an off-campus party the night before his death. “He passed out and had to be carried from place to place” after drinking a bottle of Wild Turkey 101 proof bourbon, according to the grand jury report. The 20-year-old student was found unconscious the next day. Another pledge “called and texted five fraternity members,” instead of calling the police first, according to phone records cited in anAP report.

It’s not clear why those specific nine men were charged with hazing. Tallahassee police Det. Dan Copelin testified that the fraternity brothers’ reluctance to be interviewed by the police could be tied to fears of “harming the fraternity,” according to the grand jury presentment.

Tallahassee Police Officer Damon Miller said that law enforcement charged the nine men in conjunction with the Florida State Police Department. State Attorney Jack Campbell declined to comment.

In a document attached to the grand jury report, Coffey’s family said that their son dreamed of going into the Navy.