One of eleven FAMU members charged in the death of drum major Robert Champion is speaking out tonight. Rikki Wills was Champions roommate. He is charged with felony hazing but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, Wills says he was on the bus that fatal night to try and protect his fellow drum major.
Rikki Wills agreed to meet with us at his attorney’s office. Inside we spent more than a half hour going over the fatal night and the culture of hazing at Florida A&M.
Robert Champion had steadfastly refused to go through the process know as “crossing bus C.” Until November 19th, the night of his death. He made the decision late. Wills says all of the drum majors, had they known, would have been on the bus helping Champion get to the back. Instead it was just Wills.
“What the drum majors get on the bus to try to do is to try to help each other,” Wills said. “Basically, I’m trying to stop him from getting as many hits.”
Rikki also says Robert Champion was hit as many as three hundred times. Wills broke his own hand trying to pull a band member off Champion.
“I can remember me trying to find and peel her fingers off and her arms off, because she just had him, like, locked up,” he said. “Basically, a full-nelson. So he was just opened up as people were trying to get at him.”
Afterward, he says Champion was like everyone else who goes through Bus C–tired and out of breath. It wasn’t till moments later that things took a turn for the worse.
“Then he started complaining that he couldn’t see,” Wills said. “I mean, his eyes were wide open, he was looking directly at us, and he was complaining that he couldn’t see.”
Rikki says that when the band director and police chief talked to band members about hazing, no one paid attention. Or in his words, it went in one ear, and out the other.
And Wills says FAMU faculty and administrators should have know what was going on because everyone else did.
“It’s either that they completely just ignored it, or didn’t care to know what it was,” he said.
Wills faces felony charges, although he claims he was only there helping Robert Champion get to the back of the bus.