Delaware County activists say police, borough not being transparent in death of Fanta Bility

Fanta Bility was shot and killed by police back on August 27, 2021.

Friday, August 19, 2022
Fanta Bility death: Sharon Hill activists say there's no transparency
During Thursday night's meeting, the community raised questions as to why a report on the investigation, paid for by the borough and released three weeks ago, was so heavily redacted.

SHARON HILL, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Community members in Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania demanded more transparency Thursday night following the release of a heavily redacted report on the death of 8-year-old Fanta Bility.

It's been nearly a year since the girl was killed last August when three officers, who are no longer on the force, allegedly heard gunshots and fired into a crowd after an Academy Park High School football game.

Those Action News spoke with say the borough has failed the child and the entire community with a lack of transparency into what happened.

"To know that a mother is out here grieving in pain and that her baby girl died in her arms. To think about that -- if that were me, I don't think I'd be able to function," said Maleata Ragin of Sharon Hill.

Fanta Bility was shot in August 2021 as she walked with her mother following a football game at Academy Park High School.

During Thursday night's meeting, the community raised questions about why a report on the investigation, paid for by the borough and released three weeks ago, was so heavily redacted.

They're also demanding to know what policies and procedures of the Sharon Hill Police Department are going to change since this tragedy.

"She had a future and hopes and dreams, and friends and a family. And all of that was snuffed out. It could happen to any of our kids because as of now they're not giving us any answers," said Echo Alford of Sharon Hill.

At the meeting, Borough Council President Tanya Allen did offer some insight but only that they're still working on things.

"We don't have a list to say here's what we came up with, or this is what we're going to change. It deserves its diligence. It deserves its time so that going forward we kind of know that we did our best to make sure everyone is equipped so this doesn't happen again," said Allen.

She also acknowledged releasing the heavily redacted report was a mistake.

"This council sincerely thought it was a good idea to share with the public what we could at this time considering that there is pending litigation. It clearly was not the right choice," said Allen.

SEE ALSO: 'I just want truth': Questions raised about redacted report in police shooting death of Fanta Bility

"Hosting their first national night out knowing that a child was killed on these same grounds less than a year ago, and still no answers have been given to the family. That's a hazard to the community," said Diamond Gibbs of Sharon Hill.

Another big question raised was how much the investigation has cost taxpayers. So far, the borough treasurer says they've spent roughly $76,000.

"We have asked for another report. The redacted report has no information," said NAACP Philadelphia Branch President Cathy Hicks.

Darby Area NAACP President Sheila Carter recently filed a Right to Know request to get more information on the report and on police policies.

Carter tells Action News that the borough requested more time to review the request to determine if the requested records could be released.

An attorney for the Borough of Sharon Hill previously stated that an unredacted report couldn't be released because it may impact the criminal and civil cases against the officers who were all fired.

Activists say that shouldn't stop the borough from releasing information on active shooter policies that existed before Fanta Bility was killed.

SEE ALSO: 3 Sharon Hill police officers charged in shooting death of 8-year-old Fanta Bility

"How come Sharon Hill Borough will not share that information with us? Either no policies and procedures are in place, or something in that report is holding them back from sharing that information with us," said Carter.

The United Coalition for Fanta Bility is pushing to get the Department of Justice involved in this investigation.

Action News reached out to the police chief and the attorney representing the borough but neither responded Thursday.