Two coaches in Georgia have been charged in the death of a high school basketball player nearly two years after she collapsed while performing practice drills outside in extreme heat.
Larosa Walker-Asekere and Dwight Palmer have been indicted on counts of second-degree murder, second-degree child cruelty, involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct, WSB-TV reported on Tuesday. They were both arrested last month in connection with the death of Imani Bell, a student at Elite Scholars Academy, which is part of Clayton County Public School System.
On August 13 2019, the 16-year-old was forced to participate in outdoor conditioning even though the temperature climbed as high as 97 degrees that day, with a heat index of 103 degrees. According to a wrongful death suit filed the same year, the “defendants observed Imani experiencing early signs of heat illness during the outdoor practice but nevertheless directed Imani to continue performing the conditioning drills with her team and directed Imani to run up the stadium steps.”
A Georgia Bureau of Investigation autopsy from 2019 revealed that Bell suffered from hyperthermia and rhabdomyolysis. She did not have any underlying health issues leading up to her tragic death.
Eric Bell, Imani’s father, said he wants both coaches held responsible for his loss. The family’s attorney, Justin Miller, also noted the significance of having charges brought against the suspects.
“The assistant coach saw Imani struggling and how hot it was and did not stop the practice,” he told the news station.
“This is only the second time in history a coach has been charged in this way and the first time a coach has ever been charged with murder.”
Both Walker-Asekere and Palmer have since been released on bail.
More coaches should be held responsible for what they put players through — no sport is THAT serious. Ever.