Security footage has revealed that Penn State sophomore Tim Piazza spent his final hours trying to drag his inoxicated, bruised and bloodied body around. According to Philly.com, he fell down a flight of stairs multiple times. He lay drunk and unconscious, and the footage showed that the fraternity brothers did little to help him. Instead, they stepped over his body. They also slapped, hit, and doused him with water. Nobody called 911. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Piazza was dying. He was suffering from head injuries and internal bleeding.
The security camera footage was described in minute-by-minute detail to a grand jury on Friday. It is evidence used in a case against the 18 members of Pennsylvania State University’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity. The fraternity group is being charged with complicity in Piazza’s death. According to the New York Times, 8 of the 18 students and the fraternity itself were charged with involuntary manslaughter. The other 10 fraternity members face lesser charges, including hazing and furnishing alcohol to minors.
The security recording doesn’t show the pledge’s falls down a flight of steps. But, it does show its aftermath. The events took place during a February pledge initiation ritual off campus.
The footage shows the start of the night: Piazza’s arrival at 9 p.m., dressed in a blazer, a buttoned-down shirt and khakis. According to Philly.com, Piazza and 13 other pledges were getting ready to participate in a hazing ritual known as “the Gauntlet.” One member later testified that “the Gauntlet” requires the guzzling of vodka, shotgunning of beers, and multiple rounds of beer pong where pledges downed four to five drinks in two-minute spans. By 10:30 p.m., Piazza was visibly drunk, according to the report and grand jury presentment. Security footage showed at least two other fraternity members trying to assist him as he staggered. He then stumbled out of the camera’s sightline.
The next time Piazza is visible on the footage, the grand jury said, four young men had dragged his limp body back up a flight of stairs and placed him on a couch. The men removed his shirt, which revealed a large bruise on his side.
The fraternity brothers argued over what to do with Piazza. While some poured water on his face, others slapped him. While they argued, another student could be seen in the background of the video falling down a flight of stairs. About 30 minutes after Piazza’s fall, fraternity member Kordel Davis grew agitated. He told the grand jury that he insisted that Piazza needed immediate medical attention. He claimed that he screamed for someone to call 911, but the others shouted him down.
“In response, [member] Jonah Neuman rose from the couch, shoved Davis into an opposite wall and instructed [him] to leave,” the presentment stated.
Davis asked fraternity vice president Ed Gilmartin for help, but Gilmartin allegedly told Davis that he was crazy and that his opinion meant little against those of fraternity members majoring in biology.
By 1 a.m., Piazza was twitching and throwing up, but overall the fraternity members lost interest in him. Grand jurors described the young men as displaying less and less concern over Piazza. At one point in the party, fraternity member tackled another, and he landed on top of Piazza who Piazza fell off the couch. A group dragged him back up and smacked his bruised abdomen hard, the presentment stated.
The security cameras captured another four hours of Piazza struggling to move on his own.
At 4 a.m., Piazza tried to stand but fell face-first into the hardwood floor. An hour later, he staggered into the lobby, and hit his head on an iron railing before collapsing again. At 5 a.m., Piazza clutched at his sides as a fraternity member stepped over his body. According to the report, that member stepped over his body once on his way to grab a drink of water and again on his way back to his bedroom. Another member recorded Piazza's struggle before going to bed.
A little after 7 a.m., Piazza fell down the stairs again. Three hours after that, fraternity members Daniel Erickson and Kyle Pecci found Piazza lying on his back breathing heavily and bleeding from the face. But, they still didn’t call 911. They hauled him back upstairs instead.
Finally, at 10:48 a.m., 11 hours after Piazza’s first fall, fraternity member Ryan McCann called an ambulance. Piazza died the next day from a ruptured spleen and head injuries. According to the report, medical examiners believe his blood alcohol level was nearly 0.40 which is almost five times the legal definition of intoxication.
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