The family of Fanta Bility, the 8-year-old killed by police in the cross fire of a reported shooting, is calling on officials in Sharon Hill to fire the officers responsible for her death.
The family’s attorney, Bruce Castor, on Thursday urged the borough to terminate the officers, who remain on administrative leave, as an investigation into their actions continues.
“Enough facts of the District Attorney’s investigation have been made public to demonstrate the officers acted unreasonably in using deadly force under the existing circumstances,” Castor said in a statement. “Fanta’s family cannot understand why Sharon Hill fails to recognize the fact that in continuing to employ these officers, it is continuing to victimize all those touched by this tragedy.”
Fanta was killed, and her older sister was wounded, by three officers who opened fire toward a crowd of people leaving a football game at Academy Park High School on Aug. 27, according to Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer. The officers were monitoring the crowd leaving the football game when they received reports of a shooting a block away from the high school. The three fired toward a vehicle leaving the area, striking Fanta and three others. A fifth person was also wounded, but it was unclear by whom, Stollsteimer said.
Stollsteimer has convened a grand jury to investigate the incident and determine whether criminal charges should be filed against the officers. He has said county detectives have identified persons of interest in the shooting that prompted the police response, but has not released any additional information.
Sharon Hill’s solicitor, Sean Kilkenny, said Thursday that borough officialsunderstand the Bility family’s frustration and anger, but are awaiting the outcome of the grand jury investigation..
“After that investigation would be the appropriate time to issue discipline if needed,” Kilkenny said. “But that decision should be based on a thorough investigation, and not a rush to judgment.”
The borough has appointed Kelley Hodge, a former Philadelphia district attorney, to oversee an internal investigation into the conduct by the officers, as well as a review of the department’s training policies.
Hodge declined to comment Thursday, saying that investigation remains active.
Castor’s comments echo calls from State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, a Democrat whose district includes Sharon Hill, and other members of the Delaware County Black Caucus who have urged officials to fire the officers responsible for Fanta’s death.
“We have to be able to justify why a police officer, or anyone else, shot into a crowd of Black and brown children,” Sheila Carter, president of the Darby chapter of the NAACP and one of the caucus members, said in September. “We need to know why this happened in our community. We do not, after three weeks, need to ask the question: ‘Why do we still not know?’”