The family of Fanta Bility appreciates the overwhelmingly sympathetic response as they marked the first anniversary of Fanta’s killing today. There are many good, decent, and honorable people in Delaware County, and the communities that make up Sharon Hill Borough and its surrounding neighborhoods. To all of these people, Fanta’s family says a heartfelt “thank you.”
This evening, quietly, a close family member of Fanta’s along with the family’s attorney, former homicide prosecutor Bruce L. Castor, Jr., sought to view the scene at the football stadium at the precise time and date of Fanta’s death recreating as closely as possible the lighting conditions which were present when Sharon Hill police made the decision to use deadly force. The family member and the former prosecutor wanted to see with their own eyes the conditions as they would have been one year ago to the minute, to the second, when Fanta lost her life. Astonishingly, the South Eastern School Board refused.
Earlier in the week, the Bility family through the DA’s Office asked that the lights at the stadium be turned on from 8:30 to 9:30 this evening. But the elected members of the school board representing Fanta’s community would not allow the lights to be turned on, despite knowing the request came from Fanta’s family. The quiet viewing of the scene on the anniversary of Fanta’s death at the same time in similar weather and identical lighting conditions thus became impossible.
The action by the members of the South Eastern School Board kept people from seeing the truth of the lighting conditions and evaluating for themselves the ability for officers to see at the moment they decided to use deadly force. Sharon Hill Borough’s police fired at a moving car riddling it with bullets. In so doing, they shot innocent people and ended Fanta’s life. That the members of the school board did not want people to see the area under similar conditions to the night of the shootings is eerily reminiscent of the decision by Sharon Hill council members to blackout critical portions of the commissioned report by former Philadelphia District Attorney Kelley Hodge. Those blacked-out areas must address the training Sharon Hill gave to its police in the use of deadly force, the means Sharon Hill measured how well its officers learned that training, and what (and the type of) simulations and continuing education Sharon Hill mandates for its officers who now face criminal charges. Surely, those heavy redactions conceal deficiencies in that training and the dereliction of Sharon Hill Borough’s elected and appointed officials who are required to send only the most highly trained and proficient officers onto the streets. To send not only those who have demonstrated proficiency in firing their weapons, but who especially those who have mastered when not to fire them.
Justice for Fanta will never come while council and school board members, do everything possible to conceal the truth of Fanta’s killing. The community as a whole should be able to see all facts in the Hodge Report with their own eyes to learn the conclusions of a disinterested and experienced law enforcement official. Those efforts were blocked-in blackness by order of the people running Sharon Hill. The efforts by the family and their attorney to see with their own eyes the scene of Fanta’s death with the proper lighting, time of day and weather conditions, were blocked-in blackness by the people running the South Eastern School District in evident solidarity. Justice for Fanta begins with finding out the truth of what happened. Sharon Hill officials have done all they could to shine a light on the truth. They are joined by local school board members doing all they could to keep the truth from being illuminated by the stadium lights. The question all should be asking of their elected and appointed officials now is: “why these two elected governmental bodies are so intent on keeping the truth from the Bility family, the community, and their voters?”