Often attributed to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the quote “justice delayed, is justice denied” is an ancient legal principle. And yet justice continues to be denied for 8-year-old Fanta Bility and other victims of a late August police shooting. Nearly a month after her killing, the community of Sharon Hill, Pa. is left wondering when justice will be served.
According to local news outlets, an independent investigation into the killing of eight-year-old Fanta Bility was announced Thursday. Philadelphia’s ABC affiliate reported a former District attorney Kelley Hodge, will oversee the independent review. Sharon Hill Borough Council brought in Hodge in response to the sense of urgency for answers. (Read more for Philadelphia 6 ABC here)
The Delco Times reported Hodge was brought in for her unbiased lens and her background as both the first Black woman district attorney in Philadelphia and her time as a public defender. According to the Delco Times, Hodge’s appointment was to address potential policy violations related to the events that led to officers killing Bility and injuring three others.
“In addition to accountability, the investigation will examine Sharon Hill Police Department policies and procedures at the time of the tragic shooting and the use of force training requirements to assess and advise on their content and application,” said Borough Solicitor Sean Kilkenny in a statement.
Earlier in the day on Thursday, state Sen. Anthony H. Williams joined other Delaware County Black Caucus members for a press conference echoing community demands for answers and accountability.
In most scenarios, the perpetrator would already be in custody. Yet, somehow the rules are different when the possible killer of a young child is a police officer. The community is still piecing together the facts, while her family grieves the loss of one so young and full of potential.
Community members led a march last week, calling out the slow wheels of justice in figuring out what happened and which of the three cops on the scene were responsible for killing Bility. From what is known, officers shot at a vehicle outside of a high school football game on the night of August 27.
Two of the officers are white, and one is Black. But it is unknown who fired the fatal shot. Bility’s older was also injured during the incident. But the question remains why this happened and what Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteime will do about it.
In a statement issued on Sept. 2, Stollsteime explained that officers may have been shot at from a block away from the high school stadium, as a crowd was leaving a football game. Despite the presence of families and children, the three officers discharged their weapons.
“Tragically, our investigation has now determined that there is a high probability that the responsive gunfire of the Sharon Hill Police Officers struck four victims, including the shots that killed 8-year-old Fanta Bility and wounded her sister,” stated Stollsteime.
The Inquirer reported Stollsteime again offered the family his thoughts and prayers, but what they need now more than ever are answers and action.