Imani Bell’s Coaches Charged With Murder
Two high school basketball coaches in Georgia have been charged with murder in connection with the death of a teenager who collapsed after exercising in a workout held in the near 100-degree heat and is later died.
On Wednesday morning, days before the second anniversary of the death of teenage Imani Bell, 16, lawyers for the Bell family announced the charges at a press conference in Atlanta.
“It’s very big,” said Justin Miller, an attorney representing the family in a related lawsuit. According to Miller, who is also Imani’s cousin, the murder charges are the first ever against trainers accused of negligence.
Eric Bell, Imani’s father, called the accusations of development “bittersweet”. “It doesn’t get any easier,” he said of his daughter’s death.
Last month, a Clayton County grand jury indicted LaRosa Maria Walker-Asekere, the head basketball coach of the Elite Scholars Academy in Jonesboro, Ga., And Dwight Broom Palmer, the assistant coach of basketball, second degree murder, child cruelty, manslaughter and reckless driving. The charges were announced this week.
When asked why she called on the grand jury to indict the coaches with murder, Clayton County prosecutor Tasha Mosley said: “The murder charge is second degree and is based on criminal negligence by opposition to malice. “
Jessica Gabel Cino, a law professor at Georgia State University, suggested the murder charges might be meant to encourage a plea deal. “A murder charge linked to a charge of endangering children / abuse is obviously not inappropriate,” she wrote in an email. “But I wonder if the prosecution can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Lawyers for Ms Walker-Asekere or Mr Broom Palmer could not be reached immediately on Wednesday. Clayton County Public Schools declined to comment on the charges or whether either coach was still employed by the district.
Imani was a junior at Elite Scholars Academy, about 20 miles south of Atlanta, on August 13, 2019, when she climbed the steps of a football stadium as part of a training session in a “heat. extreme ”and collapsed, according to a lawsuit filed in February by the girl’s parents.
The temperature at the time was around 98 degrees with a heat index of between 101 and 106 degrees, according to family lawyers. A heat advisory had been issued that day for Clayton County, they said.
An autopsy conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations attributed his death to heatstroke caused by intense physical exertion in extreme temperatures, according to a statement from lawyers for the family. He found no pre-existing medical conditions, they said.
“Common sense that is not common can literally kill your child,” Miller said at Wednesday’s press conference. “You have coaches who want to earn more than take care of these kids.”
The civil case differs somewhat as to who it seeks to hold responsible for the mistakes that led to Imani’s death. In addition to Ms. Walker-Asekere, the trial names Jason Greenlee, the school’s athletic director; Shonda Shaw, the director; and Phillip Ramsey and Ashley Baker, assistant directors. Mr. Broom Palmer is not named in the lawsuit.
In court documents, Ms Walker-Asekere said it was her first day as coach of the women’s basketball team and she relied on guidance from the athletic director and other staff of the academy to carry out the conditioning activity.
“It was also Imani’s first day,” Miller said on Wednesday.
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