(PHILADELPHIA) — One year after 8-year-old Fanta Bility was fatally shot by police while leaving a football game in Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania, her family is grieving her loss and fighting for justice.
“I miss my baby,” Fanta’s mother, Tenneh Kromah, told ABC Philadelphia station WPVI-TV. “Me and Fanta were so close. The other kids, they used to say ‘you love Fanta too much.’ I would say yes.”
Kromah held back tears as she reflected on her love for her daughter. She said that coping with Fanta’s loss — the youngest of her six children — has been “very difficult” over the past year.
The 8-year-old was a “very friendly” girl, her mother said, who loved fashion and enjoyed recording videos on TikTok.
Fanta was shot while exiting a football game with her family at Academy Park High School on Aug. 27, 2021, when officers Brian Devaney, Devon Smith and Sean Dolan fired their weapons toward the crowd after two teens opened fire in a personal dispute close to the high school, according to Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer.
The three officers were each charged on Jan. 18 with 12 criminal counts of manslaughter and reckless endangerment.
“We have now concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that it was, in fact, shots from the officers that struck and killed Fanta Bility and injured three others,” Stollsteimer said in a January press release announcing the charges.
“This is a terrible tragedy that was caused by armed and violent criminals who turned a high school football game into a crime scene in which an innocent child lost her life and others were seriously injured,” Raymond Driscoll, Steven Patton and Charles Gibbs, the lawyers for the three officers, said in a joint statement after the charges were announced. “These three officers ran to the sound of gunshots and risked their own lives to protect that community. These three good men are innocent, and remain heartbroken for all who have suffered because of this senseless violence.”
The Sharon Hill Borough Council voted on Jan. 21 in favor of terminating the three officers from their positions at the Sharon Hill Police Department.
ABC News reached out to the attorneys representing the three former officers, but requests for comment were not immediately returned.
Family, friends and community members held a rally on Saturday in Sharon Hill to call for justice on the one-year anniversary of Fanta’s death.
Her family shared a photo with WPVI that was taken of Fanta the day she was fatally shot. They said the 8-year-old was napping and initially wanted to stay home but eventually decided to accompany members of her family to the football game to support her sister, who was a cheerleader.
As they cope with her death, there are no photos of Fanta in the family’s living room.
Abu Bility, Fanta’s uncle, told WPVI that videos are now too painful for her mother to watch.
“Whenever she sees Fanta’s photo… it kind of refreshes her memory that it just happened,” he said.
Fanta’s family expressed outrage last month over the release of a heavily redacted report about their daughter’s shooting in Sharon Hill, a suburb of Philadelphia.
The highly anticipated report, which outlines the findings of an independent investigation into the police policies and procedures related to the shooting, was released by the Sharon Hill Borough Council, but many of its findings and recommendations were redacted.
Bruce Castor, the attorney for Fanta’s family, told ABC News in a statement on July 31 that the redacted report is “unacceptable” and “an insult to the memory of Fanta.”
“The heavily edited report raises more questions in the minds of the family and the public than it answers,” Castor said.
“The world will eventually learn how Sharon Hill Borough officials failed to make certain its police trained under realistic scenarios and understood fully when deadly force is permitted under the law and when it is not,” he added.
Courtney Richardson, the Sharon Hill Borough solicitor, defended withholding the information, telling ABC News in a statement on July 31 that the Sharon Hill Borough Council redacted information to protect the ongoing investigation.
“Council has only redacted conclusions and recommendations of Special Counsel in the interest of justice, considering the active litigation in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania,” Richardson said.
The redacted report is the conclusion of that nine-month investigation and comes after attorneys for the three officers filed a motion to drop the voluntary and involuntary manslaughter charges against the officers, according to WPVI.
When asked about the motion to dismiss the charges, Castor told ABC News on July 31 that the family wants the DA’s office to “do its best to obtain convictions holding the police officers criminally accountable for their actions.”
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