Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude
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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

Teenagers Charged In Death of Little Girl Who Was Shot By Cops

The girl’s family says it’s the officers who should be held accountable

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A relative holds up a cell phone with a photo of Fanta Bility. Fanta, 8, who was killed in Sharon Hill during a shooting on Aug. 27.
A relative holds up a cell phone with a photo of Fanta Bility. Fanta, 8, who was killed in Sharon Hill during a shooting on Aug. 27.
Screenshot: Jessica Griffin/Philadelphia Inquirer

Two teens in a Philly suburb were just charged with the tragic shooting death of an eight-year-old Black girl who died back in August. The only problem is nearly everyone acknowledges it was cops—who have yet to be charged—who shot the girl and three other people at the scene.

We’re confused, too.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s coverage, the incident happened on Aug. 27, 2021 when Hassein Strand, 18, and Angelo Ford, 16, started shooting at each other about a block away from where a high school football game was concluding. Both are now charged with first-degree murder and other counts by the Delaware County District Attorney’s office in the death of Fanta Bility, a little girl who died at the scene. It all sounds straightforward, until we hear from the DA, Jack Stollsteimer about why he charged who he charged.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Stollsteimer has said Fanta was struck by a bullet fired by one of three Sharon Hill police officers who were monitoring the crowd leaving Academy Park High School after the season-opening football game against Pennsbury.

It remains unclear which officer fired the shot that killed her, but all three have told investigators they opened fire on a vehicle they mistakenly believed was involved in the shooting between Ford and Strand, which prosecutors said took place about a block from the stadium. Fanta was struck once in the back and pronounced dead at the scene. Three other people were wounded by the gunfire from police, including her older sister.

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So to recap: Two people shot at each other. Three cops then open fire on a car unrelated to the shooting. Shots from the cops—not the original shooters—kill an eight year old girl and wound three others, yet they face no charges while the original shooters, who didn’t fire at the car or hit anyone in it, could face life in prison or worse under Pennsylvania law.

Somebody please explain.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The legal basis for charging the two teens “is very simple,” First Assistant District Attorney Tanner Rouse said in a statement. “They were attempting to kill one another that night, and as a direct result a little girl is dead.”

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But Fanta’s family and their attorney see it differently. They’ve sued the Sharon Hill Police and the cops involved including John Scanlan III, Devin Smith and unidentified others. The Delaware County Times reports that the cops fired at least 25 times, and the family says they want them held accountable for the girl’s death.

From the Delaware County Times:

The suit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, provides a concise narrative of the events as seen by the plaintiffs: That at least three Sharon Hill police officers “unreasonably, and with a specific intent to kill, fired multiple gunshots from their semiautomatic borough-issued pistols at persons in a moving car,” and that the bullets traveled beyond the car into the crowd of innocent bystanders who were exiting the game.

“The occupants of (the) car were unarmed, engaging in no criminal activity, and did not pose any threat at all to the police officers or the community at large,” the suit says. “The driver of the car was in fact an innocent 19-year-old woman with innocent another woman of similar age in the front passenger seat (sic). No other persons were in that car when the police unreasonably used deadly force against its driver and passenger.”

Fanta and her sister, Mawatta Bility, were both struck by the hail of gunfire passing beyond the car, the suit says. Fanta Bility “succumbed to her injuries after lying conscious in her mother’s arms while her mother attempted to comfort the terror-stricken little girl before she died,” according to the suit.

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Damn. We’ll be watching and updating as the case goes forward.