Family now suing UC Regents over son’s alleged hazing death at UC Riverside

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) — The family of a Southern California college student who died after allegedly being hazed is speaking out about the hazing epidemic in fraternities nationwide.

Attorneys say Tyler Hilliard died as result of being hazed by UC Riverside’s Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Saturday marks the 5th anniversary of his death.

“We’re still not over it,” said his mother Myeasha Kimble. “I think we will probably be grieving for the rest of our lives.”

In addition to suing the fraternity, the family has amended their civil lawsuit to add a new defendant: the Regents of the University of California, which governs the university system.

“We found that the UC Regents investigated an anonymous tip that there was some hazing going on by the Alpha Phi Alpha members years prior,” said attorney Toni Jaramilla during Thursday’s press conference.

Attorneys also said they have obtained new evidence: audio recordings of police interviews with individuals who were pledging the fraternity with Hilliard.

“Pledges met with the police, gave statements that they were physically abused each and every night for at least a five-week straight period of time, and reading those interviews is chilling,” said attorney V. James DeSimone.

According to attorneys, Hilliard collapsed during alleged hazing rituals that ended at Mount Roubidoux. The coroner’s office determined the 20-year-old’s cause of death to be “complications of congenital artery anomalies.”

Attorneys stressed his death could have been prevented.

“His heart gave out,” said DeSimone. “Tyler had some vulnerabilities, but you don’t take advantage of those vulnerabilities.”

A representative for the Office of the UC President told ABC7 it does not comment on pending litigation. A UC Riverside webpage states the fraternity was dismissed in 2019 because of “risk management concerns.”

On its website, the Alpha Phi Alpha organization, which has chapters across the country, states it emphasizes the importance of hazing prevention.

Eyewitness News also reached out to the Riverside Police Department. We are waiting to learn more about the results of its investigation into Hilliard’s death. A trial date has been set for January 2024.

“Mostly, what we want to see come out of this is we want to see stronger anti-hazing laws and protocols and policies in place so it doesn’t have to happen to another student,” said Kimble.

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