Video of Penn State pledge chugging alcohol from night he suffered fatal frat house fall shown in court
Courtesy The Piazza Family (STATE COLLEGE, Penn.) — Video of Penn State fraternity pledge Tim Piazza chugging vodka, beer and wine at a pledge ceremony inside the Beta Theta Pi house the night he fatally fell down the frat’s stairs was shown in court today.
The court hearing will determine if there’s enough evidence to send the case to court for trial in connection with Piazza’s death. The defendants are several of the 26 young men who belonged to the fraternity. Piazza’s parents left the room before the video was played.
The men are facing various charges, including involuntary manslaughter, hazing and conspiracy, though aggravated assault charges were recently withdrawn.
On the night of Feb. 2, 2017, Piazza, a 19-year-old sophomore, participated in an alcohol-fueled hazing ritual at the frat house.
In the video shown in court today, pledges, as part of the ritual, are brought into a basement room and instructed to sit on a bench. They pass around a bottle of vodka which travels up and down the line of 14 pledges three times. Piazza is identified as the 9th pledge in line in a suit and tie.
Pledges are seen on video playing beer pong, and every time a pledge misses a shot, he is handed a beer to chug.
Piazza at one point is seen stumbling and staggering.
After the ritual, a heavily intoxicated Piazza was heard falling down the stairs, and later found lying face down at the bottom. What happened next is described in horrific detail in a grand jury report citing evidence including surveillance video, witness testimony and phone records.
Members of the fraternity carried Piazza up the steps and put him on the couch. They dumped water on his face and slapped him in an apparent attempt to wake him, to no avail. When one pledge tried to intervene, insisting they get Tim Piazza some help, he was shoved into a wall and told the brothers had it under control, the grand jury report says.
As the night went on, Tim Piazza tried over and over to stand on his own, falling each time and eventually going still. By the next morning, he was breathing heavily, with blood on his face. When a fraternity member finally called 911 for help, Tim Piazza’s skin had turned gray, the report says.
He died a day later of traumatic brain injuries.
Prosecutors claim the frat brothers then tried to cover up the alleged hazing and underage drinking.
One former fraternity member allegedly texted his girlfriend “drink hazing can send me to jail,” and “I don’t want to go to jail for this,” prosecutors said. “I think we are f—–,” he added.
Another text read, “Make sure the pledges keep quiet about last night and this situation.”
Beta Theta Pi has since been barred from Penn State.
Last week Piazza’s parents joined with a local state politician in announcing a new anti-hazing bill in the hopes to “change the landscape” in Pennsylvania and become a model for the nation.
Jim Piazza said he thinks the state bill — the Timothy J. Piazza Law — could make Greek life safer, hold those who commit hazing accountable and save lives.
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.