Evidence supports charges in FSU fraternity pledge's death, grand jury says

Grand jury: FSU's Pi Kappa Phi fraternity members' behavior was reckless

Florida State University student Andrew Coffey was found dead after an off-campus fraternity party in Tallahassee.
Florida State University student Andrew Coffey was found dead after an off-campus fraternity party in Tallahassee.

LEON COUNTY, Fla. – Florida State University student Andrew Coffey was at an off-campus Pi Kappa Phi fraternity "Big Brother Night" reveal party that involved heavy drinking and hired strippers. About 80 people attended the party in Tallahassee. 

Coffey, 20, drank a bottle of Wild Turkey 101 bourbon. Witnesses saw him passed out on a futon on the porch of the house. The Pompano Beach High School 2015 grad was pronounced dead Nov. 3.

Medical Examiner Lisa Flannagan believes that at the time of his death his alcohol level was nearly seven times the legal limit to drive. Leon County grand jurors were critical of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity members.

"A young life was senselessly extinguished," the grand jurors recently wrote in a 16-page presentment. "Aside from their behavior under the influence of alcohol, in the sobering aftermath and somber days that followed, they have repeatedly made the choice not to speak out, but rather remain loyal to a culture of secrecy that cannot be allowed to continue."

Although the investigation hasn't been completed, the grand jury found sufficient evidence to support criminal charges and will leave the decisions as to specific charging up to the State Attorney or a future grand jury. Another grand jury will convene in January. 

Coffey's mother, Sandy Coffey, wrote a letter that was attached to the presentment. She said the members of the fraternity that her son was joining were not following their creed on responsibility and their behavior was troubling. 

"Our son died alone in a room full of people ...  a group of young people saw someone in crisis and didn't act," she wrote. 

The grand jurors learned Coffey and other pledges were encouraged to drink to extreme excess and when Coffey was unresponsive the pledges called fraternity members before calling 911.  

"Actions have consequences, and it is time that they learn this," the grand jurors wrote. "Their behavior during the events in question demonstrates a recklessness and lack of integrity that reflect badly on themselves, their fraternity and their university."

The grand jurors also recommended that FSU refreshed training on hazing and alcohol consumption. FSU President John Thrasher released a statement Tuesday night that condemned the fraternity members lack of cooperation. 


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