Two Georgia coaches charged with second-degree murder in heat-related death of teen
CLAYTON COUNTY, Georgia - A 16-year-old basketball player named Imani Bell died shortly after collapsing at her Georgia school while participating in outdoor basketball conditioning drills in 2019, and two of the school's coaches were indicted in her death.
According to CNN, a grand jury indicted Elite Scholars Academy coaches Larosa Maria Walker-Asekere and her assistant Dwight Broom Palmer.
Walker-Asekere and Palmer coached Bell. The deceased teen's family says the two coaches forced her to perform conditioning drills outside on one of the hottest days of the summer.
CNN reports that the outdoor temperature at the time of Bell's death ranged from 92 to 97 degrees, with a heat index between 101-103 degrees and a humidity level between 40 and 55%, according to the autopsy report conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The report goes on to say that Bell's cause of death was classified as "hyperthermia and rhabdomyolysis during physical exertion with high ambient temperature," and no preexisting conditions were found.
Bell's family filed a lawsuit against the team’s coach, the athletic director, principal and assistant principal of Elite Scholars Academy earlier this year, citing them as negligent parties in Bell's death.
Walker-Asekere and Palmer were indicted on charges of cruelty to children in the second degree, involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct, court records show.
Bell's father, Eric, said though he and the family are grateful to Clayton County District Attorney Tasha Mosley for bringing charges, the family is still grieving.
"It's refreshing, but at the same time we want to continue to fight for justice," Eric said.
Walker-Asekere and Palmer are scheduled to be arraigned October 18, 2021.