Two Georgia high school basketball coaches have been charged with second-degree murder in the death of a former star player, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
A grand jury has charged two coaches with murder and child cruelty after Imani Bell suffered a heat stroke after practicing outdoors in nearly 100-degree weather, an attorney for the player’s family said Tuesday. The Atlanta-area grand jury indicted Larosa Walker-Asekere and Dwight Palmer last month.
Bell, a former student at Elite Schools Academy in Jonesboro, Ga., died of kidney failure after collapsing during outdoor conditioning drills in 2019. Her death was originally ruled an accident, but a grand jury said in July that coaches Larosa Maria Walker-Asekere and Dwight Broom Palmer were culpable for “conducting outdoor conditioning training for student athletes in dangerous heat,” which led to Bell’s death.
The heat index rose to 106 degrees Fahrenheit the day of Bell’s collapse. Justin Miller, an attorney for the girl’s family, said Tuesday that the indictment “sends a signal that the DA is taking this seriously.”
But he added that he wants to see the case move ahead “swiftly.”
“The point of the case is the prosecution, not just the charges,” he said.
The autopsy report said that on the last lap of the conditioning drill, which included running a set of stairs, one of the coaches noticed Bell was tired, so “he started walking the last lap with her and encouraged her.”
The coaches would eventually provide Bell with water, but once she reached the top of the stairs, she “leaned into the rail and then went limp.”
The two coaches face second-degree murder, second-degree child cruelty, involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct charges.