Twelve new Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers face criminal charges in the death of Tim Piazza after prosecutors reviewed surveillance footage from the Penn State fraternity house that had been deleted by a Beta Theta Pi brother in the wake of Piazza’s death, apparently in an attempt to erase evidence of the fateful night.
The FBI, which is working with local law enforcement, helped recover the deleted footage six months after the fraternity’s video system was seized by State College police as evidence in Piazza’s death.
Also facing new or enhanced charges are five brothers who were already charged in the death of Piazza, according to CBS News. In all, seventeen people face new criminal charges, including involuntary manslaughter, hazing and providing minors with alcohol.
Newly-recovered footage shows Beta Theta Pi members forcing 18 drinks on Piazza and other pledges in less than an hour and a half on the night he fell down a set of stairs and sustained the injuries that would slowly kill him, according to Business Insider.
That hazing ritual, called the “Gauntlet,” was forced on every pledge. Some consumed between four and five drinks in as little as two minutes; footage shows that pledges were forced to guzzle vodka and shotgun entire beers back-to-back.
Tim Piazza, a Penn State student pledging at Beta Theta Pi, died in February. He was admitted to the hospital with a collapsed lung, a ruptured spleen, and “non-recoverable” brain trauma sustained in a fall down the stairs at the Beta Theta Pi house nearly 12 hours earlier, according to a timeline furnished by The Collegian.
After his head-first fall, Piazza was taken to an upstairs room, where members of the fraternity kicked, slapped and poured liquid on him in attempts to rouse him. At one point, a fraternity member “backpacked” Piazza, attaching a backpack full of items to his back to prevent him from rolling over, where he could choke on his own vomit were he to throw up while unconscious. Prosecutors now know that Piazza had suffered a ruptured spleen in the fall, and as his fraternity brothers-to-be harassed him, his abdomen was filling with blood.
In total, 28 fraternity brothers face charges in Piazza’s death. While the most serious charges were dismissed by a judge in September, the Centre County District Attorney’s office re-filed manslaughter, simple and aggravated assault charges against eight Beta Theta Pi brothers in October, per WNEP.
The Beta Theta Pi house was fitted with security cameras throughout the building, which left plenty of video evidence in the death. Tom Kline, a lawyer for the Piazza family, calls the video of Piazza’s final hours “horrible” and “gruesome.”
“No parent wants to see what is apparently on this videotape,” he added.