Activists motion for release of redacted report on deadly police shooting

For the second time this month, activists gathered in front of Sharon Hill’s Borough Hall to demand the release of more information on the police killing of an 8-year-old last August.

Authorities say in late August, Fanta 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 “AJ” 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office originally levied first-degree murder charges against both Ford and Strand, but those charges were later withdrawn.

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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.

Sharon Hill leadership used tax dollars to pay for an investigation of the incident and a probe of police training. They released a heavily redacted copy of that report prompting protesters to demand that a complete report be made public. Borough leaders have argued they’ve limited the release of information due to pending criminal and civil court cases.

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.”

Standing in front of Sharon Hill Borough Hall Thursday morning, Sheila Carter, the head of the Darby area NAACP, said, “for a whole year the residents of Sharon Hill are sitting at home asking if their kids are safe, they’re asking are our police officers trained, they are asking if they’re being trained with the new information we haven’t received, but our Borough Council has.”

During a Thursday night meeting activists will present borough council members with a letter demanding the release of the hidden information. The letter reads: “In order to make things right, you have to acknowledge what went wrong and tell us how you are correcting the problems that exist within the department.”

You can read the NAACP’s full letter to borough council members below:

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