Basketball coaches face murder charge after teen’s heat-related death

Family accuse high school staff of ignoring heat advisories

Gino Spocchia
Wednesday 11 August 2021 20:44
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Two basketball coaches at a high school in Atlanta, Georgia, are facing charges for murder and cruelty following the death of a 16-year-old player from heat stroke.

The coaches, Larosa Walker-Asekere and Dwight Palmer, were charged last month by a grand jury in Clayton County, Georgia, for the death of the basketball player, Imani Bell.

They face second-degree murder, second-degree child cruelty, involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct, and imprisonments if found guilty, according to reports.

Ms Bell, who was a student of Elite Scholars Academy, allegedly collapsed in the middle of a training exercise in August 2019, and later died of cardiac arrest – which was the result of heat stroke.

Her family argued in a lawsuit in February that a heat advisory was issued that day for the Atlanta area – advising against outdoor activities, NBC News reported. Temperatures approaching 100F (37.7C) were reported at the time.

The training exercise was also allegedly a violation of a Georgia High School Association rule forbidding outdoor practices in high temperatures. The school district did not return The Associated Press’s request for comment.

Justin Miller, an attorney Ms Bell’s family, said on Tuesday that the charges sent "a signal that the District Attorney is taking this seriously”, and called for the case to move forward “swiftly”.

"The point of the case is the prosecution, not just the charges," said Mr Miller.

According to The Associated Press, it was not clear if either Ms Walker-Asekere or Mr Palmer had lawyers, and had not returned requests for comment.

"We are every day learning to live with the loss of our daughter," said Ms Bell’s mother, Dorian Bell, in a press conference on Tuesday. "Realising that this is nothing that will ever go away, that it will always be here, a piece of me is missing, but we're learning to live...We just want closure in this whole situation."

The Independent has reached out to the Georgia High School Association for comment.

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