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Eight-year-old girl was shot and killed by police in Sharon Hill, PA; local leaders want officers responsible for her death to be held accountable

PHILADELPHIA – Today, in advance of a rally at Media District Court on January 13, Philadelphia City Councilmembers Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), Kendra Brooks (At-Large), Katherine Gilmore-Richardson (At-Large), Helen Gym (At-Large), and Isaiah Thomas (At-Large) released the following statement regarding the killing of eight-year-old Fanta Bility by police:

“What we are seeing in Sharon Hill is a shocking miscarriage of justice. Today we stand together in solidarity with the Bility family and concerned community members to call for transparency regarding the investigation into the actions of the police officers responsible for this grievous act, and to demand that these officers be dismissed from duty. We also call on Delaware County DA Jack Stollsteimer to carry out the trial against Angelo Ford and Hasein Strand – the two teenagers involved in the initial shooting incident – in good faith.

“We want to be clear that these two young men deserve to face appropriate consequences for their actions—but the way in which this case has unfolded defies logic. They are not responsible for Fanta’s death; they were a block away when this entirely separate incident took place, and therefore it is completely inappropriate for the DA to pin first-degree murder charges on them. Legal experts who have weighed in on the matter say there is little chance of these charges standing up in court. From our perspective, and from the perspective of the victim’s family, this is just a ruse to distract from the terrible decisions police officers made that day – and to allow them to evade scrutiny.

“The three responding officers shot 25 rounds into a crowded street from over 100 feet away, ratcheting up what was already a chaotic scene. This immediately calls into question their training, their judgment, and their fitness to serve as agents of the law. As taxpayers who provide the salaries for police officers, residents deserve to have competent law enforcement professionals that uphold public safety and protect the peace. To deliver that, DA Stollsteimer must reveal the identities of the officers who killed Fanta, terminate their employment, and commission an independent investigation into the matter at hand to ensure nothing like it ever happens again.

“The weight of this tragedy falls on the shoulders of the three officers who discharged their weapons that day. For the DA to attribute responsibility for this crime to these young Black men, while allowing the officers involved to get off scot-free, is indefensible. It must also be noted that there are racial implications here. It is inconceivable that police officers would shoot into a crowd of white people – and it’s inconceivable that two young white men would be charged with first-degree murder in a similar scenario.

“DA Stollsteimer apparently believes it is acceptable to soft-shoe the irresponsible actions of law enforcement officers. Today we are standing together to say that this is absolutely unacceptable. We feel compelled to speak out because this injustice cannot remain in the shadows. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder by police, people across the country took to the streets to demand racial justice. We must continue to stand up against oppression wherever it rears its head – and particularly when it’s in our backyard.”

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