Fanta Bility death: Family, community leaders raise questions about redacted report in deadly shooting of 8-year-old

SHARON HILL, Pennsylvania (WPVI) — It has been almost a year since 8-year-old Fanta Bility was killed by Sharon Hill police officers, but community members say they have no more information now than they did a year ago.

During a Tuesday morning news conference hosted by the Darby Area NAACP, Fanta’s mother, Tenneh Kromah, spoke for the first time about the loss of her daughter.

“Thank you to everyone who has supported me and my family,” she said in a low voice. “I just want the truth from Sharon Hill and justice for my daughter.”

Bility was shot and killed in August 2021 while walking with her mother after a football game at Academy Park High School.

SEE ALSO: Law Firm Releases Heavily Redactioned Report on Police Shooting of Fanta Bility

Three officers, identified as Brian Devaney, Sean Dolan and Devon Smith, fired their guns as the game got underway in response to gunshots they heard nearby that were unrelated to the football game.

They fired 25 shots at a black Chevy Impala they believed the shots came from.

This vehicle drove past the rising crowd that included Billy.

The fatal decision to fire into the crowd sparked a nine-month investigation in which the county hired a private council to investigate what happened.

“In June we were told that the report was ready. They made us wait until July to get the report,” said Sheila A. Carter, Darby Area President of the NAACP.

Released Friday, the report is heavily redacted, with many of its findings and recommendations not visible to the public.

“The answers they gave have been redacted. We have a right to know,” said Cathy Hicks, president of the NAACP Philadelphia Branch.

ALSO SEE: 3 Sharon Hill police officers charged with shooting dead 8-year-old Fanta Bility

Borough Solicitor Courtney Richardson completed the editorials. She said she received approval from another council after making the edits.

“The recommendations and conclusions have been withheld because it’s ultimately part of the court process,” she said, adding that the council didn’t have to release “anything” to the public.

Local activists disagree, saying the district has a duty to district residents to be transparent with all information in the report.

In their decision to edit much of the report, district leaders are citing attorney-client privilege and the pending criminal and civil cases against the three officers, all of whom have been fired and charged, but community members say they were at least told should become what is the report on policy and practice recommendations for the police.

“If you don’t allow us to know your policies and procedures if it happens again, what happens?” Carter asked.

“How can we trust our officials when they won’t even tell us what’s wrong?” asked Fanta’s uncle Abu Bility.

On Tuesday night, protesters rallied at Academy Park High School — the same location for National Night Out, a police community-building event held annually across the country.

Those protesting say the police evening should not have taken place at the school.

“Having your first National Night Out and knowing that less than a year ago a child was killed for the same reasons and the family still hasn’t had any answers. It’s a danger to the community,” said Sharon Hill’s Diamond Gibbs.

The group marched from Sharon Hill Borough Hall to the school.

Family and community members feel Fanta’s case is not being treated fairly because of race.

“Once it’s a Black immigrant person, we feel like we’re being looked down on,” said Alascal Wisner of the migrant advocacy group Minority Center.

“Asking the question of whether we treat the Bility family differently because of the color of their skin, I would say as a member of this elected body, is not a true statement,” Sharon Hill Borough Council President Tanya Allen said when addressing community members at The Media was sometimes emotional about the case.

Still, the people fighting for Fanta vow to continue this fight until they get answers and justice.

“We will continue to fight for justice for Fanta,” said Malcolm Yates of the Delaware County Black Caucus.

The NAACP chief said she will file an application to find out how much the investigation cost the county. The district said they are still working on police policy recommendations. There is no timeline for when “these” will be released.

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