California mother charged for telling child to hit opponent

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California woman was criminally charged Thursday for telling her daughter to “hit her” before the girl punched an opposing player in the head during a basketball game.

The punch was thrown last month as two club teams played during a tournament in Garden Grove, south of Los Angeles.

Latira Shonty Hunt was caught on cell phone video yelling “you better hit her for that” after her daughter fell to the ground on a previous play involving the victim, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said Thursday.

The blow crumpled the 15-year-old victim “to the floor like a rag doll,” Spitzer said. The girl suffered a concussion, according to her family’s lawyer.

Hunt, 44, is charged with two misdemeanors: contributing to the delinquency of a minor and simple battery and faces up to a year in jail if convicted, Spitzer said. Contact information for Hunt couldn’t be found and it wasn’t immediately known if she has an attorney.

“In my opinion it would have not happened, but for mom’s words,” Spitzer said of the attack. He said Hunt’s words “were the catalyst” that caused her daughter “to even think about” punching the other girl.

The girl who threw the punch is the daughter of former NBA player Corey Benjamin, who issued an apology shortly after seeing the video.

“As a father, I’m shocked and disappointed at my daughter’s behavior as this is not a reflection of the values and standards that my family holds. Nor does it exemplify the values, character and spirit of sportsmanship that the game of basketball requires,” Benjamin said in a statement.

The victim’s lawyer, Kevin Hahn, said the family is “pleased with the DA’s decision to charge the mother. We think it’s warranted given the facts.”

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