The FBI has recovered surveillance footage from cameras that members of a Penn State fraternity claimed weren’t recording the night pledge Tim Piazza, 19, was fatally injured after a hazing ritual, officials said.
District Attorney Stacy Parks Mills said the former members of Beta Theta Pi erased video that showed Piazza consuming 18 drinks over the course of an hour and 22 minutes.
“And Mr. Piazza in the basement video… never once obtained any of those drinks for himself,” she told reporters Monday. “Brothers were coming up to him and giving him those drinks, including in the basement.”
New charges were brought against some former members of the frat as a result of the discovery, including some of the 14 individuals already facing charges.
Twelve others were newly charged as a result of the footage prosecutors said was restored.
Five of those 12 are facing charges that include involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault.
Eleven of the 12 face charges of hazing, furnishing alcohol to minors and unlawful acts related to liquor.
One former frat brother, who was accused of deleting the video, was charged with tampering with evidence, obstructing administration of law and hindering apprehension.
Prosecutors said “fraternity brothers led police to believe that the basement cameras” weren’t working the night Piazza was forced to drink in a ritual known as the “Gauntlet” on Feb. 2.
Piazza ultimately fell down a set of stairs and was found lying face down at the bottom.
Members of the fraternity carried Piazza up the steps and put him on the couch, where the dumped water on his face and slapped him in an apparent attempt to wake him, according to a grand jury report citing surveillance footage, witness testimony and phone records.
One pledge tried to intervene, but he was shoved into a wall and told it was already under control, the report said.
Piazza tried for hours to stand on his own, but each time he fell and eventually he went still. By the time a brother called 911 on Feb. 3, his skin was gray, the report said.
He died a day later of traumatic brain injuries.
“Over the last several months, we listened to defense arguments centered around victim blaming,” Piazza’s father, James Piazza, said at Monday’s press conference. “’How could the defendants know they were putting someone seriously at risk since no one died before?’ As if they were entitled to one free death."
The victim’s father continued: “With a catch-all argument of, ‘We don’t know,’ they claimed, 'We don’t know what else happened, other than what was seen in the upstairs video,' and, 'We don’t know what happened in the basement.' Guess what, guys — now we know.”