Police investigating alleged hazing by fraternity


Dave DeLuca/The Record

Pictured on the far left is the mailbox in the Campbell Student Union of Buffalo State’s chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, Delta Epsilon, which is suspended while Buffalo Police investigate the alleged role of hazing in the death of Bradley Doyley.

Dave DeLuca, Executive Editor

The City of Buffalo Police Department is investigating an alleged hazing incident involving the fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha and Bradley Doyley, the 21-year-old SUNY Buffalo State senior who died Thursday night at Buffalo General Hospital.

Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner released a statement Friday:

“Buffalo State College is aware of and continues to support the City of Buffalo Police Department’s investigation into an allegation of hazing involving Alpha Phi Alpha and Bradley Doyley at an off-campus location. While the investigation is conducted, the campus chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha has been suspended by both the college the fraternity’s national governing body.”

Doyley, A Brooklyn native, was a business student at Buffalo State, and former player on the men’s basketball team. He was set to graduate this spring. His cause of death was not announced.

The Buffalo News first reported that Doyley was pledging the local chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, Delta Epsilon at the time of his illness late last month, and according to students, “he might have been given some type of concoction to drink that led to the illness,” The News wrote.

“He was throwing up blood,” Michael Panton told the New York Daily News after speaking to Doyley’s mother about two weeks ago. “They had to take him into surgery and cut open his stomach. She asked us to keep him in our prayers.”

Panton lived next door to Doyley’s parents in Canarsie (southeastern Brooklyn) before they moved to Florida two years ago.

Local attorney John Elmore will represent the Doyley family during the investigation.

“My understanding is that there have been three homicide investigators who have been questioning people,” Elmore told reporters Sunday night. “We will do what we can to assist the Buffalo Police, assist the family and guide them through this complicated process. If there is a civil suit merited, I, and my partner, will file a civil suit on the family’s behalf.”

The Buffalo News reported Monday that Doyley’s death doesn’t appear to be caused by hazing, police sources told The News. The News reports that an autopsy done by the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that there were no signs of hazing or foul play. Toxicology tests will reveal the exact cause of death, however those won’t be completed for at least a few weeks.

However, Elmore told The Record that ruling out hazing because of autopsy results is wrong.

“There’s more to an investigation than an autopsy report,” Elmore said. “There’s eyewitnesses, there’s forensic analysis of telephones, computers, looking at social media accounts. They’re just at the very beginning. The homicide detectives are very, very professional, and they don’t even know who the unnamed sources are and they’re pretty ticked off about it.”

The Delta Epsilon chapter at Buffalo State first became recognized as a student organization in 1980, and does not have any past suspensions. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown is a former member of the chapter.

Delta Epsilon’s governing body, Alpha Phi Alpha, was the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African American men, and was founded at Cornell University in 1906. The fraternity has 686 chapters worldwide, including the University at Buffalo and Canisius College, according to its website.

Alpha Phi Alpha’s national office in Baltimore did not return a phone call or an email from The Record requesting comment. However, its office did send a statement to The Buffalo News.

“We are unable to comment about any allegations at this time. The situation is currently under investigation and the chapter has been placed on a cease and desist, suspending all chapter activities, which is a part of our standard protocol when the national headquarters has received an allegation regarding any of its chapters,” organization spokesman Bryan J.A. Kelly sent The News in an email.

The statement went on to say that Alpha Phi Alpha strictly prohibits any illegal acts, including hazing.

The fraternity has been linked to hazing deaths in the past.

The organization was sued in 2014 after a pledge claimed he was hazed while trying to join the Bowie State University chapter. Kevin Hayes filed a $3 million lawsuit against the frat, saying he was beaten, and spanked with a wooden paddle on a daily basis in 2013.

In 1992, 20-year-old Gregory Batipps, a University of Virginia student died after falling asleep behind the wheel of his car while pledging Alpha. Batipps was suspected of being sleep deprived because of hazing.

Even further back in 1989, 19-year-old Joel Harris, a Morehouse College sophomore, was pledging Alpha when he collapsed and died after being beaten during a hazing ritual.

If Doyley’s death is proven to be because of hazing, it would be the first death due to hazing at a SUNY school since 2009, when 19-year-old Arman Partamian, a sophomore biology student

from New York City, was found dead March 1 after binge drinking to gain membership in the off-campus fraternity at SUNY Geneseo.

Partamian’s blood-alcohol level was 0.55 percent, nearly seven times the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle.

The fraternity was later dissolved from the campus following Partamian’s death.

More recently, West Virginia University freshman Nolan Burch, a Williamsville native, died in 2014 after drinking an extreme amount of liquor at a fraternity event. Burch was among 20 pledges attempting to become members of the Kappa Sigma fraternity who participated in a ritual called “Big/Little.” At the ritual, pledges are given a bottle of liquor, and forced to finish the bottle that night.

Burch died two days later at a West Virginia hospital. Burch’s BAC was determined to be .493 percent.

Kristen Catalano, the assistant director of Greek Life at Buffalo State, could not comment on the allegations against Alpha Phi Alpha. All members of Alpha Phi Alpha at Buffalo State have been told not to comment on the investigation.

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