Basketball Coaches Indicted for Murder After Allegedly Making 16-Year-Old Girl Practice in Extreme Temperature

website: Dwight Broom Palmer, and Larosa Maria Walker-Asekere booking photos

Two basketball coaches have been indicted for murder

and other charges after a 16-year-old girl died

practicing in extreme heat. Head coach Larosa Maria

Walker-Asekere and assistant coach Dwight Broom

Palmer were formally charged with murder, cruelty to

children, involuntary manslaughter, and reckless

conduct back on July 1, records show, but media

outlets first reported the development on Tuesday. It

is almost two years to the day since young Imani

Bell died practicing with the girls basketball team at

Elite Scholars Academy in Clayton County, Georgia.

 

“Due to the extreme heat and humidity outside, Imani

began experiencing early signs of heat illness and was

visibly struggling to physically perform the outdoor

conditioning drills,” said a lawsuit filed in February

and obtained by sources. “Defendants directed her to

perform. 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.”

 

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s autopsy report

said that coaches at the scene gave Bell water as they

saw her falling behind teammates during practice,

according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The

school district, however, reportedly had a policy to

suspend outside athletic activities when heat index

reached 95 degrees. Temperatures were reportedly as

high as 97, and the heat index was 103 degrees.

 

“Miss Bell attempted to run with the girls for the last

lap but was unable and did a fast paced walk,” the

report read. “One of the coaches noticed Miss Bell was

tired, so he started walking the last lap with her and

encouraged her.”

 

The coach accompanied her, encouraged her, and

might have physically helped her up the stairs,

authorities said.

 

“As Miss Bell neared the top … [she] leaned into the

rail and then went limp,” the report said.

 

Bell had no underlying conditions, her family has said.

 

Defendants in the lawsuit were the academy’s athletic

director, the girls’ basketball team coach, the school’s

principal, the assistant principal, and other

unidentified school officials connected to that practice

on Aug. 13, 2019, according to sources. Now

prosecutors claim that Palmer and Walker-Asekere

are criminally responsible for Bell’s death.

 

The 16-year-old died primarily from a heart attack she

had because of physical exertion in high temperature,

according to the GBI’s 2019 autopsy. She suffered

from hyperthermia (resulting from the body’s

inability to regulate heat) and rhabdomyolysis

(skeletal muscle breakdown), authorities said.

 

Records show no attorneys of record for Palmer and

Walker-Asekere. They have been released on bond.

Both declined to comment.

 

Source: Tyshawn Smith

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