Introducing Fanta’s Law: Delco legislators, Bility family propose legislation to require more police training

Delaware County lawmakers are hoping to pass legislation in honor of Fanta Bility, an 8-year-old girl who was shot and killed by Sharon Hill police officers in 2021.

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State Sens. Tim Kearney and Anthony H. Williams speaking at a podium

State Sens. Tim Kearney and Anthony H. Williams breakdown their proposed legislation in honor of eight-year-old Fanta Bility. Tenneh Kromah, mother of Fanta, sheds tears behind them. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

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A pair of Delaware County lawmakers are introducing legislation in honor of Fanta Bility, an 8-year-old girl who was fatally shot by Sharon Hill police officers in 2021.

The legislation, known as Fanta’s Law, would require officers in Delaware County to undergo more training.

Democratic state Sen. Anthony H. Williams and state Rep. David Delloso announced the introduction of their companion bills Monday morning just outside of Academy Park High School, where Fanta was killed.

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“It’s extraordinary that this family has not only taken this very tragic moment and turned it into a teaching lesson for humanity — and that is to make sure that justice is found on behalf of their child,” Williams said, standing alongside the Bility family as well as a handful of county, local and state officials. “But also make sure that we acknowledge that there are things that we should have done, can do and will do to prevent this type of tragedy from occurring again.”

Senate Bill 1212, formally introduced on May 28, would require all officers in second class A counties to undergo mandatory firearms training courses at least four times each year. Officers who fail to complete the training requirements would be placed on administrative leave until training has been met.

Delloso is set to introduce his bill on the house floor this week. He said his bill would focus on training officers in “high-pressure” situations.

Siddiq Kamara, Fanta’s cousin and president of the board of the Fanta Bility Foundation, and Tenneh Kromah, Fanta’s mother and co-founder of the foundation, were instrumental in discussions to draft the legislation.

Kamara, who is a former police officer, said establishing a standard of training amongst Delco’s 46 police departments would be a step in the right direction.

Siddiq Kamara speaking at a podium
Siddiq Kamara, Fanta’s cousin, and Tenneh Kromah, Fanta’s mother, speak about the police shooting and how the new legislation would prevent such a tragedy from occuring again. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

“One of the most important things to me and my aunt was to focus on police training. And for the past eight months, my aunt and I, we talked to all the elected officials throughout the county, state and local [about] how we can come together and make sure that this tragedy never happens again,” Kamara said.

The Bility family and the Democratic legislators worked behind the scenes with the Fraternal Order of Police Delaware County Lodge 27 and Republicans to ensure the bill would satisfy all parties.

“I’ve already received a lot of support from leadership,” Delloso said. “I’ve already received a lot of support from my college — and it’s legislation that I am sure will fly through the House.”

Overcome with emotion, Kromah was brief in her remarks when speaking about her daughter.

“I don’t want anybody to be in this situation,” Kromah said.

What happened to Fanta? Three years since the police shooting outside of a high school football game

Shortly after a high school football game in August 2021, police heard gunshots and saw a car approaching from the direction of the noise. Three officers fired their weapons in response, near a crowd. The officers struck several individuals and killed Fanta. The occupants in the car were not connected with the shots being fired a block away.

Fanta Bility stands for a photo outside
Fanta Bility was shot after a football game at Academy Park High School on Aug. 27, 2021. (6abc)

Fanta’s death snatched national headlines. Although a ballistics analysis concluded the bullet that fatally wounded her came from an officer, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer filed first-degree murder charges against the two teens who were firing their weapons nearby. This decision sparked community outrage.

The murder charges against the teens were eventually dropped. Following a grand jury investigation, Stollsteimer charged the three policemen for Bility’s death and the wounding of three others in January 2022.

Ex-officers Devon Smith, Sean Dolan and Brian Devaney faced a dozen criminal counts each of voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment for their actions. The Fraternal Order of Police Delaware County Lodge 27 criticized the charges.

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Sharon Hill Borough Council later fired the officers for violating the law and borough code.

Protester holding a picture of Fanta Bility
File photo: Robin Markle holds up a painting of Fanta Bility – an 8-year-old shot and killed by police in August, 2021 – at a rally outside the Delaware County Courthouse demanding charges against the officers. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The trio ended up pleading guilty to 10 counts of reckless endangerment in November 2022 and were later sentenced to house arrest and five years probation. The Bility family reached an $11 million settlement with the borough in September 2023. As part of the settlement, the borough agreed to establish a citizen’s advisory committee to oversee police hiring.

Speaking at Monday’s press conference, Stollsteimer commended the Bility family for the work they’ve accomplished through the Fanta Bility Foundation.

“In my faith, when you try to take a personal tragedy and turn it into a public good, we call that an act of grace,” Stollsteimer said.

Jack Stollsteimer speaking at a podium
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer commends the Bility family for the work they’ve done in the community since Fanta’s death. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

He added that after the officers were sentenced, Fanta’s siblings requested to speak to the officers and tell them that they forgave them.

“It was the most touching thing I’ve ever seen in my entire adult life — these young people who want to break down barriers and just be human,” Stollsteimer said.

Kamara told WHYY News the proposed legislation is just the beginning of the Fanta Bility Foundation’s work. The organization has already been active with bookbag drives for local school children.

He said the next legislative step is mandating that all police departments maintain their accreditation.

“One of the key things we really want to focus on is accreditation throughout Pennsylvania, but that comes with calls and we’re going to continue to advocate on that when it comes to the training aspect,” Kamara said.

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