Hat Tip: By Megan Matteucci, Steve Visser, Atlanta Journal Constitution
A professional fitness trainer with a celebrity clientele —- including Usher and several National Football League players —- remained in a coma Thursday after being severely beaten in a downtown Atlanta parking lot.
Darius Miller, 41, was escorting Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin’s two daughters about 2:50 a.m. Wednesday when a group of men tried to videotape the women as they left a nightclub on Peachtree Street downtown, according to his cousin, Ken Miller.
“These guys were trying to videotape Shirley Franklin’s daughters and Darius tried to stop them,” Miller said Thursday. “Ten guys ganged up on him. They beat him until he was unconscious.”
Ken Miller was not present when the attack happened, but had eaten dinner with his cousin earlier on Christmas Day. He said he later spoke to several of the women who were with his cousin that night.
Mayor Shirley Franklin confirmed that her daughters, Kai Franklin Graham, 35, and Kali Jamilla Franklin, 29, were with Miller and a couple of friends when the videotaping took place.
The mayor, who said she is skiing in Colorado with her 8-year-old grandson, said she did not know Miller but was concerned about his well-being.
“I’ve talked to my daughters but I don’t know anything officially,” Franklin said. “I don’t know why 15 guys —- or 10 people or five —- would jump on one person regardless of what was said.”
Atlanta police spokesman Officer James Polite said the men turned on Miller “and physically assaulted him to the point where he had to go to the hospital.”
“He was just outnumbered and overpowered,” Polite said.
Miller was taken to nearby Emory Crawford Long Hospital, where he remained in the intensive care unit Thursday evening.
“We’re trying to wait it out and keep saying our prayers,” Ken Miller said.
Darius Miller had Christmas dinner with his family, including his cousin, and then took Franklin’s two daughters and several other women to Django and Verve, nightclubs on Peachtree.
Darius Miller is a career fitness trainer who also has dabbled in entertainment promotions. He worked at an Atlanta gym for eight to 10 years before starting his own business about five years ago, his cousin said.
According to his cousin, Darius Miller has trained Usher, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Takeo Spikes, former New York Giants player Carlos Emmons and “Cosby Show” star Keisha Knight Pulliam, who visited Miller in the hospital Wednesday, his cousin said.
One of the mayor’s daughters who was with Miller that night was Kai Franklin Graham, who recently pleaded guilty in federal court in South Carolina to money laundering charges involving cash transfers from her ex-husband.
The ex-husband, Tremayne Graham, is serving a life sentence in a high-security federal prison in Kentucky for his role in a massive cocaine trafficking operation.
Franklin Graham has not yet been sentenced, but under her plea agreement with federal prosecutors she is expected to avoid prison.
Police said the attack on Miller occurred in a parking lot in the 400 block of Peachtree Street, but they would not confirm whether the women involved were Franklin’s daughters.
In a police report released to the media, no information on witnesses was included and the description of the fight said only that the assailants were “videotaping individuals walking to and away from the parking lot.”
Franklin said she did not instruct the police or city officials to cover up information that her daughters were with Miller. Franklin referred all questions to police Chief Richard Pennington or his staff.
“I haven’t talked to anyone officially … and I’m not involved in the investigation,” Franklin said. “Chief Pennington is in charge of his section of the city. … I’m sitting in 100 inches of snow on vacation.”
Police have made no arrests, Polite said. He did not know how many attackers were being sought.
If y’all ask me, the Mayor needs to explain why people keep getting hurt behind her daughter.