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Family Updates Clayton Co. School Officials Lawsuit In Death Of 16-Year-Old Imani Bell

ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) -- Attorneys for the the family of Imani Bell, 16, have changed the named defendants in a lawsuit against Clayton County Public School administrators and her basketball coach at Elite Scholars Academy.

The Bell family attorneys, Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys, have updated the lawsuit and have dropped Kevin Davis as one of the defendants and added LaRosa Askere.  According to the attorneys statement, Askere was the head girls basketball coach on the day of the incident.

During a press conference held on February 24, 2021, one of the attorneys, L. Chris Stewart, said staff members required Imani and others to run a mile, exercise and run up stadium steps in extremely hot weather with a heat index of up to 110 degrees. She collapsed and died later that day on August 13, 2019. "This is one of the most egregious cases that we have seen involving a high school student," said Stewart.  "You're killing our kids when you're not following the rules. Money is not more important than the lives of our children in Georgia."

"Every day, we are learning to live with the loss of our daughter," said her mother, Dorian Bell. "A piece of me is missing, but we're learning to live." "Basketball was just one of her loves. She was in love with life, she was in love with education," said Eric Bell, her father.

"The whole district, the school, the coaches, nobody talked to them, sat with them, told them, 'Hey, we're sorry for this,'" said Justin Miller, who also represents the family. "We're gonna fight as hard as we can to get some form of justice for Imani." Stewart said the district also violated state rules. "This practice was being held illegally, too early before the basketball season," he said.

Over a year and a half later, they're demanding justice and closure. "I don't want this to happen to anybody else's child. We want laws in place," Dorian Bell said.

Attorneys say school officials ignored heat advisories, and they pointed out how other school districts, like Cherokee County, cancelled practices that day. "The individuals directly responsible for this misconduct are the ones that we name in the suit," said Brian Spears, another attorney.

Steward said the lawsuit is to protect all students across the state. However, he said he's not confident the family can expect a quick resolution, based on prior cases. "We're gonna be in litigation for years fighting Clayton County, because they're not gonna want to take care of this family."

CW69 reached out to Clayton County Public Schools for a response to these allegations. In an email, a spokesperson indicated the district does not comment on pending or ongoing litigation matters.

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