Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Tyler Hilliard’s Parents to File Lawsuit Against Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. for Son’s Hazing Death

Tyler Hilliard
Tyler Hilliard

*On the 5th year anniversary of the death of their son, Tyler Hilliard’s parents, Myeasha Kimble and William Hilliard are speaking out about the hazing epidemic in the undergraduate setting, particularly fraternities. In a press conference on Thursday (09-14-23), they plan to announce the re-filing of their lawsuit against an iconic fraternity. (Scroll down to get the details of the press conference.)

In 2019, Myeasha and William initially filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., its Pi-Epsilon Chapter, and the UC Regents in 2019.  They claim under Penal Code §245.6 (hazing) alleging that their son, Tyler Hilliard died as a result of being hazed by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.  On September 16, 2018, Tyler collapsed at Mount Rubidoux after an “initiation hike,” the purportedly last hazing ritual after weeks of physical, emotional, and mental abuse and torture.

Tyler was 20 years young when he died.  He was just entering his junior year at the University of California, Riverside, and pursuing a major in Business.  The lawsuit alleges that as a condition of being accepted into the Alpha fraternity, Tyler and other pledges were forced to participate in activities meant to mentally, physically, and emotionally break them down, including pushing them to exhaustion and causing physical harm.

It is alleged that the hazing included physical assaults such as being hit hundreds of times on the side of the body while blindfolded and shirtless and beaten repeatedly on the buttocks with wooden paddles.  Even after clear warning signs when Tyler was hospitalized a week before his death in a hazing-related incident, Alpha continued to engage in physical and mental abuse towards Tyler.

“I hope that our son’s case will bring attention to this deadly tradition of hazing and maybe save someone’s life,” says Myeasha Kimble and William Hilliard.

Tyler Hilliard and parents
Tyler Hilliard and parents

“There were hazing deaths both before Tyler’s death and after.  Fraternities and universities are simply not doing enough to protect students.  Tyler wanted to belong.  He wanted to be part of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity because of the great work it does for the African-American community. He should not have had to give up his life for it,” says award-winning civil rights and employment attorney, Toni Jaramilla of Toni Jaramilla, APLC.

“Hazing is unlawful.  Yet, fraternities like Alpha continue to abuse young men like Tyler if they want to join.   In taking legal action, Tyler’s family is hopeful that we can put a stop to this barbaric practice.  We are asking for anyone with knowledge of Alpha Phi Alpha’s abuse to contact us” says Jim DeSimone, recently recognized as  Civil Rights Lawyer of the Year in Los Angeles by Best Lawyers..

“Hazing is an extraordinary activity that, when it occurs often enough, becomes perversely ordinary as those who engage in it grow desensitized to its inhumanity.  Young black men can achieve unity, brotherhood, strength, honor, dignity and respect without engaging in unlawful hazing. Unfortunately, violent physical struggle has come to be regarded as a key ingredient in achieving these characteristics and Tyler lost his life because of it. We will get justice for Tyler and his family!” says renowned civil rights attorney, Rodney S. Diggs.

Famous alumni of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity include historic leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall and Frederick Douglass.

Surely, none of them condoned hazing as a requirement to join the fraternity.

Tyler Hilliard
Tyler Hilliard

WHAT: Press Conference – Tyler Hilliard’s Parents to announce Lawsuit Against Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

WHEN: Thursday, September 14, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.

WHERE: Toni Jaramilla, APLC
1900 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 900
Los Angeles, CA 90067
(News crews: Park temporarily along the sidewalk)

WHO’S ATTENDING: Myeasha Kimble and William Hilliard (Parents of Tyler Hilliard)
Toni Jaramilla, Esq. (Toni Jaramilla, A Professional Law Corporation)
Jim DeSimone, Esq. (V. James Desimone Law)
Rodney Diggs, Esq. (Ivie McNeill Wyatt Purcell & Diggs)
Najee Ali, civil rights activist
source: Toni Jaramilla, Esq – Najee Ali

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