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A grand jury has indicted two coaches in the deaths of a Clayton County basketball player who died after participating in training drills during extreme heat.
Imani Bell collapsed while participating in outdoor basketball conditioning drills at Elite Scholars Academy on August 13, 2019.
In July, the grand jury charged Larosa Walker-Asekere and Dwight Palmer with second degree murder, second degree child cruelty, manslaughter and reckless conduct. According to Bell’s family, Walker-Asekere and Palmer were two of her coaches.
Earlier this year
Earlier this year, the family filed a lawsuit against the team’s coach, athletic director, director and deputy director of Elite Scholars Academy, among others, as negligent parties in his death.
Bell’s parents said the 16-year-old was forced to perform outdoor conditioning exercises on one of the hottest days of the summer. The heat index made it even hotter.
A 2019 Georgia Bureau of Investigation autopsy indicated that Bell suffered from hyperthermia and rhabdomyolysis after exercising in temperatures reaching 97 degrees with a heat index of 103 degrees.
The conditioning exercises may have violated county guidelines on outdoor workouts, Channel 2 previously reported.
Eric Bell, Imani’s father, told Channel 2’s Tom Jones that the coaches were negligent and that someone should be held accountable. He said that he too is a coach and that he would never send his students into the scorching heat that led to the death of his daughter.
“The assistant coach saw Imani struggling and how horny she was and didn’t stop practice,” attorney Justin Miller said.
Miller says the fees are great news, as coaches are not typically charged after incidents like this.
“This is only the second time in history that a coach has been charged in this way and the first time that a coach has been charged with murder,” he said.
But he says that he will not return Imani. Miller says her family keeps thinking about her potential and what she could have been.
“She was taking college classes in high school, so she had enough credits. She probably would have been a sophomore on her first day of college, ”she said.