Habari Gani: A Focus on Recent Events

Stop Killing Us
© [VAKSMANV] / Adobe Stock

By Makheru Bradley

November 18, 2021 10:55PM
Makheru Bradley

We titled this series Habari Gani, a Kiswahili term we use during Kwanzaa, translated as “What’s New”, or “What is the News?” Our intent is to cover recent events that impact Afrikan people.

The Tyranny of Stray Bullets—this time from the police—kill 8-year-old Fanta Bility
It was Friday night football for Academy Park High School in Sharon Hill, PA, and the family of 8-year-old Fanta Bility was attending the game to support her sister who was a cheerleader. After the game an argument between two teenagers led to an exchange of multiple gun shots. Moments later two women were driving about a block away from the shooting near the football stadium. Three Sharon Hill police officers, two white, one Black, heard the gunshots, and when they saw a car ride by they immediately fired wildly into that car.

Fanta Bility
Fanta Bility
via Bruce L. Castor Jr.
Some of the shots fired by the police hit a crowd of people leaving the game. Fanta Bility was shot and killed. Fanta’s 12-year-old sister, a 13-year-old boy, and one other person were wounded in this mass-shooting by the police. A 20-year-old woman who was a passenger in the car was injured by flying glass. Initial reports from several sources said Fanta was an occupant of the car.

The trigger-happy police officers say they mistakenly believed the vehicle was involved in the shooting, so they shot into a car and a crowd of innocent people. The officers have not been charged or fired for their deadly and reckless behavior. They are currently on administrative leave. Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said, "We have concluded that the gunfire (from the teenage confrontation), combined with the movement of the vehicle, precipitated responsive gunfire from the Sharon Hill police officers." Basically, they heard some gunfire, saw a car driving by, and started shooting. Considering the amount of gunfire we hear in our communities, this could happen to anyone. The Delaware County Black community is outraged that the officers have not been fired. None of the officers have even been identified.
No charges for the police, but two Black teenagers have been charged with murder
While there have been no charges for the police, the two teens involved in the initial shooting have been charged. Both of the teen suspects, Angelo Ford, 16, and Hasein Strand, 18, are charged with first-degree murder, five counts of attempted murder, five counts of recklessly endangering another person, as well as gun-related charges. The DA’s office said the teens are “criminally liable for the murder of Fanta Bility, as well as for the wounding of all the bystanders.”
The Bility family files a federal lawsuit and a grand jury convenes
The Bility family is seeking damages for Fanta’s death and the trauma it has caused the family. Part of the lawsuit reads:

"The Borough of Sharon Hill and its agents were deliberately indifferent and reckless with respect to potential violations of constitutional rights. The Borough of Sharon Hill and its police chief were the moving force behind the actions of the officer(s) that led to the death of Fanta Bility."

A grand jury will finally convene this week to consider criminal charges against the three officers. What was the probable cause and reasonable suspicion to fire into a moving vehicle that the police did not see involved in any criminal activity? The two teens are charged with five counts of recklessly endangering another person. The same charges should apply to these reckless “public servants.” We know that the Supreme Court supports qualified immunity for the police, but I don’t see how this case meets the broad standards of “reasonable force” the SCOTUS established in Graham v Conner. An indictment should be a no-brainer; however this is America. We’ve seen other cases, Tamir Rice and Breonna Taylor, for example, where we thought an indictment was a lock and that did not happen.

For more from the author, follow his blog Makheru Speaks.

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