On August 27, eight-year-old Black girl Fanta Bility was killed by police gunfire in Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania, outside of a football game at Academy Park High School. A month and a half later, only one person has been charged with murdering Fanta—a Black teenager who didn’t kill anyone.
According to a press release sent out by Delaware County District Attorneys Office, Angelo “AJ” Ford, 16, was arrested on multiple charges, including first-degree murder, after authorities say he was partially responsible for Fanta’s death due to him and another teen, 18-year-old Hasein Strand, exchanging gunfire nearby, which prompted the police to start shooting. Strand is also charged in relation to Fanta’s death—although, it’s unclear what he’s been charged with—and law enforcement is currently seeking him for arrest.
The D.A. said a witness “observed AJ on Coates Street just outside the football game as the game ended,” and that he “was flashing a firearm that was inside his waistband and he was heard making threats to others on the street.” The witness said Angelo “began shooting in a westbound direction toward Ridley Avenue,” and that “Strand shot back at AJ in the direction of the football field,” the press release stated, adding that the witness identified both teens after being shown photos.
The shooting between Angelo and Strand resulted in the wounding of one person who was caught in the crossfire. Authorities reported that five 45 caliber shell casings and two 9mm shell casings were recovered that have been attributed to the gunfire exchanged by the two teens.
Meanwhile, Sharon Hill Police Officers were located some 140 feet away and were “supervising the exit of spectators from the football field as the game ended.” When they heard the shots fired, they “immediately” started firing their own weapons, which resulted in the killing of Fanta and the wounding of three others. Twenty-one 9mm casings were reportedly recovered from the shots the cops fired.
So, just to recap: Angelo and Strand allegedly fired a total of seven shots at each other, wounded one person and killed no one. The police, in response to that gunfight, allegedly fired a total of 21 shots, wounded three people—none of whom were involved in the initial shooting—and killed one eight-year-old girl.
Yeah, I’m going to keep it a buck—it just sounds like some cops heard shots from a block away and responded by shooting recklessly and they ended up killing a child, so now they need scapegoats and the two shooters who killed zero people were the most convenient.
And, apparently, that’s the D.A.’s idea of “justice.”
“Today is an important step in my office’s continuing effort to seek justice for Fanta,” District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said in a statement. “Our investigation has determined that, following a verbal altercation at the football game, defendants Ford and Strand exchanged multiple gunshots with each other on the 900 block of Coates Street. This gunfight wounded one person caught in the crossfire and precipitated the responsive discharge of weapons by police officers stationed near the entrance to the football stadium. This responsive gunfire by the officers wounded three bystanders and tragically killed Fanta Bility. Under the laws of this Commonwealth, my office has determined that Ford and Strand should both be held criminally liable for the murder of Fanta Bility, as well as for the wounding of all of the bystanders.”
Notice that Stollsteimer goes very far out of his way to use a lot of curiously arranged words just to say, “the cops killed Fanta and wounded three others.” Describing what Angelo and Strand did took far less fancy and obfuscating wordplay.
Also, I’m not sure what “the laws of this Commonwealth” entail, but first-degree murder is typically defined as the “intentional killing of another person by someone who has acted willfully, deliberately, or with planning.”
Apparently, the D.A.’s office would have us believe that two teens purposely killed an eight-year-old by premeditatedly shooting at each other and killing no one but forcing cops to start making it rain bullets in the direction of the teens’ intended target. Only in “back the blue” America is that explanation more plausible than the idea that law enforcement is willing to hold anyone accountable for what law enforcement does except, well, law enforcement.
Certainly, Angelo and Strand should be brought to justice for the damage they’re accused of causing—but they didn’t kill Fanta.
Of course, according to Stollsteimer, the officers involved in the shooting aren’t off the hook just yet.
“On November 18th, a Grand Jury composed of Delaware County residents will be seated to review the entire case, so that it may be determined whether the police officers’ use of deadly force was justified,” he said in his statement.
And that’s the closest he comes to admitting directly that the cops themselves did anything “deadly.”