A man charged in the death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion is defending himself.
Rikki Wills said Wednesday that he tried to protect Champion, his roommate, the night he died.
Wills, 24, said Champion had refused to go through the process known as "crossing bus C." He decided to go on Nov. 19, the night of his death.
Willis said that if the other drum majors had known, they would have been on the bus helping Champion. Instead, Willis said, it was only him.
“What the drum majors get on the bus to try to do is to try to help each other. Basically, I’m trying to stop him from getting as many hits,” said Wills.
Wills said Champion was hit about 300 times. He said he broke his hand trying to pull another 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; basically, a full-nelson. So he was just opened up as people were trying to get at him," he said.
Wills said by the time Champion reached the back of the bus, he was out of breath.
“Then he started complaining that he couldn’t see. I mean, his eyes were wide open, he was looking directly at us, and he was complaining that he couldn’t see," said Wills.
Champion had bruises on his chest, arms, shoulder and back, authorities said. Witnesses told emergency dispatchers Champion was vomiting before he was found unresponsive aboard the bus.
Wills said the administration didn't pay attention when the band director and police chief talked to the band about hazing. Wills added that FAMU faculty and administration should have known what was going on.
“It’s either that they completely just ignored it, or didn’t care to know what it was," he said.
Wills faces felony charges. He said he was only on the bus helping Champion get to the back.
Wills was expelled from FAMU, but that was put on hold pending the outcome of the criminal trial. He would have graduated with a degree in criminology during the summer.