The parents of 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris — who was killed in a shooting last month that involved Alabama men’s basketball players — ripped the Crimson Tide’s program and head coach Nate Oats over their handling of the situation.
Harris’ mother, DeCarla Cotton, told USA Today it is “unimaginable” that Alabama freshman forward Brandon Miller was allowed to play in Wednesday’s 78-76 overtime win against South Carolina, which took place a day after police testified that Miller delivered the gun used to kill her daughter in the Jan. 15 incident.
“It’s just unimaginable, and it’s like his life is just going on,’’ Cotton told the outlet on Thursday. “He took a brief pause and it didn’t stop. It’s like, OK, slap on the wrist and go play ball.
“They’re worried about his career, but what about this this 5-year-old boy [Harris’ son, Kaine]? He’s the true victim in all this. He won’t have a mother anymore to influence his growing up and who he’s going to be.’’
Miller, who is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, scored a career-high 41 points in the Crimson Tide’s overtime victory against the Gamecocks.
The 24-year-old had the game-tying layup at the end of regulation and hit the game-winning shot in overtime. He’s No. 2 Alabama’s leading scorer.
Miller was connected to Harris’ killing in a preliminary hearing Tuesday in Tuscaloosa, during which police testified that Miller brought the gun used in the shooting on Jan. 15 at the Walk of Champions at Bryant Denny Stadium at 1:45 a.m.
Miller’s former teammate Darius Miles and Michael “Buzz” Davis, who is not affiliated with the program, were charged with capital murder and appeared in court on Tuesday. Miller has not been charged.
The judge ruled there was “sufficient evidence … to establish probable cause” to send both cases to a grand jury, per court documents. Miles and Davis are being held without bond.
A law enforcement officer testified that Miles texted Miller to bring Miles’ gun to the scene where the shooting happened. Davis is accused of shooting Harris.
Miller’s attorney Jim Standridge said Wednesday that his client “never touched the gun, was not involved in its exchange to Mr. Davis in any way, and never knew that illegal activity involving the gun would occur.”
The gun was in Miller’s car — unbeknownst to Miller — his attorneys claim.
“When somebody says bring a gun to them, what do you think they’re going to do with it?” Cotton said about Miller’s alleged involvement. “And if there was no gun, she would not be dead.”
Cotton told the outlet that Alabama coach Oats has been “god awful” in handling situation involving Miller.
On Tuesday, Oats spoke about Miller’s alleged involvement in the case.
“Brandon hasn’t been in any type of trouble, nor is he in any type of trouble on this case. Wrong spot at the wrong time.”
Later that day, Oats, having learned of Miles’ text to Miller, released a written statement to clarify his comments, which he said “came across poorly” at the prior press conference.
“I thought it was important for me to clarify the unfortunate remarks I made earlier,” Oats said. “In no way did I intend to downplay the seriousness of this situation or the tragedy of that night.”
“We were informed by law enforcement of other student-athletes being in the vicinity, and law enforcement has repeatedly told us that no other student-athletes were suspects – they were witnesses only. Our understanding is that they have all been fully truthful and cooperative.”
Harris’ stepfather, Delvin Heard ripped Oats for his initial comments about the incident, and said the coach’s second statement “meant nothing” to the victim’s family.
“The retraction meant nothing to us because over this five-week period, he has made a habit of making reckless statements,” Heard said. “When I say reckless, I mean statements not considering the victim in this whole thing, which is Jamea Harris.”
Miles’ attorney said last month that “he maintains his innocence and looks forward to his day in court.”
Miles, a junior forward, was dismissed from the Crimson Tide following his arrest. His season was cut short due to an ankle injury, and he last played Dec. 20.