SAN MARCOS, Texas – The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission says it has opened an investigation into the death of Texas State University student Matthew Ellis.
Ellis, 20, was found dead in an off-campus apartment on Nov. 13 after a fraternity event at Phi Kappa Psi the night before. TABC said it will be working with local authorities “to determine the source of any alcohol that may have been involved in Ellis’ death.
“This is an incredibly tragic event, and TABC extends its sympathies to the family, friends, and classmates of Matthew Ellis,” TABC Chairman Kevin J. Lilly said. “I want the Texas State community to know that TABC is working to determine what role, if any, alcohol may have played in Matthew’s death, and that we will vigorously pursue any violations that may have contributed to cutting this young man’s life short.”
TABC Executive Director A. Bentley Nettles added, “If it is found that alcohol played a role in this event, we will expand our investigation to identify any retailers who may have violated the law by selling to a minor or an intoxicated person. These violations constitute an extremely serious risk to public safety, and TABC will punish any parties involved to the fullest extent of the law.”
Police Chief Chase Stapp previously told KVUE and the Austin American-Statesman that criminal charges would be likely in Ellis’ death. Phi Kappa Psi added in a statement that the Texas State chapter had been suspended a week before the Humble native’s death.
“So-called ‘traditions,’ such as forcing a fraternity pledge to overconsume alcohol, have no place at a university,” Lilly said. “Regardless of the outcome of this investigation, TABC will proactively work with universities and law enforcement across Texas to combat and raise awareness of this senseless activity.”
TABC also said selling alcohol to a minor or intoxicated person can result in penalties including cancellation of a business’s liquor license as well as jail time for the employee who sold the alcohol.