The family of an 8-year-old girl who was killed by police gunfire at a high school football game in August has filed a federal lawsuit against the officers and the Delaware County borough.
On August 27, Fanta Bility and her family were leaving a football game at Academy Park High School when police shot at a vehicle driving near the stadium. One of the bullets missed the car and struck Fanta in the back. She died in her mother’s arms a short time later at the scene, the lawsuit states.
The shooting occurred when a confrontation nearby escalated to gunfire just as spectators were leaving the stadium. Three Sharon Hill police officers allegedly opened fire after hearing the shots and saw a car approaching from the direction the shots came from. No one in the car was injured and no weapon was found in the car.
The bullets fired by the police hit a crowd of bystanders, killing Fanta Bility and wounding her 13-year-old sister and two others.
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer has previously stated that initial ballistics analysis has concluded with “near certainty” that it was officers’ gunfire that killed Fanta.
Devon Smith, John Scanlan III, and a third officer were identified in the lawsuit for firing their weapons. The third officer’s name was not officially released; however, law enforcement has stated that he is a rookie who was hired about six months before the shooting.
Stollsteimer has said that all three officers fired their weapons on the night of the shooting, but that it’s unclear which of them struck the child.
The officers have been placed on administrative leave as the investigation into the shooting continues.
In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, attorney Bruce L. Castor said the girl’s family is seeking “answers and damages for the tragic and unnecessary death … and the injury and trauma inflicted on others as a result of the misconduct of Sharon Hill Police officers.”
The lawsuit also claims Sharon Hill borough and its police department are responsible for the girl’s “tragic and unnecessary death” due to inadequate training of the officers involved.
The shooting is also being investigated by a grand jury, which will determine whether criminal charges should be filed against the officers.