'I just want the truth': Activists, family of Fanta Bility demand full release of redacted report

Activists and family members of Fanta Bility are demanding the full release of a heavily redacted report into the police shooting death of the 8-year-old outside a high school football game last fall.

The investigative report, released last Friday, examined the Sharon Hill Borough Police policies and procedures in the wake of the deadly shooting at Academy Park High School's football field. 

The report was largely redacted, with any findings and recommendations obscured from public view.

"We can not stand here today and allow our Borough to ignore us, to not share with us their findings," Sheila Carter of the NAACP

Authorities say in late August, Bility and her family were leaving the Academy Park High School football field among a crowd of fans when a shooting between two young men erupted. Bullets from that shooting came in the direction of three Sharon Hill Police officers who were monitoring the crowd. 

The officers returned fire, shooting toward a car they believed was involved in the initial gunfire, striking the car and members of the crowd. Bility was the only one fatally struck as by the officer's bullets, according to officials.


Investigators later determined that the bullets fired towards the officers originated from an argument between 16-year-old Angelo "A.J." Ford and Hasein Strand, 19. Stollsteimer's office originally levied first-degree murder charges against both Ford and Strand, but those charges were later withdrawn. 

Ford is still facing charges for his "attempt to kill Strand," according to a release. Strand later pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for his role in wounding one of the children struck by gunfire and to illegal possession of a firearm.

The three officers were charged in January with manslaughter and reckless endangerment in the deadly shooting. They were later fired by the Sharon Hill Police Department following a borough vote. 

Officers Devon Smith, Sean Dolan, and Brian Devaney were each charged with a total of twelve criminal counts of manslaughter and reckless endangerment, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer announced in January. 

Almost a year after the deadly police shooting of Bility, the borough shared a heavily redacted 55-page report that was compiled by a Philadelphia law firm, with several pages completely or partially blacked out. The report drew sharp criticism from the Bility family and activist groups immediately after it was released.

"I just want the truth from Sharon Hill and justice for my daughter," Fanta's mother Tennah Kromah.

Sharon Hill leaders argue they’ve blocked sections of the report due to the criminal and civil court cases now underway, and assured that Fanta's race is not a factor. 

"The Borough Council specifically said we have to provide something to the public because they’re entitled to something," Sharon Hill Solicitor Tanya Richardson said. 

Meanwhile, the legal team for the three former officers charged in the shooting asked a Delaware County judge to dismiss the manslaughter charges. The defense argued that the officer's profession influenced the harsh penalties, which DA Jack Stollsteimer called "absolutely wrong."

"To suggest that color may be a reason the full report isn’t released at this time, I would hope the actions we’ve taken to date would stand on their own," Council President Tanya Allen said.