SHARON HILL, Pa. (AP) — Prosecutors say four of the five people wounded outside a high school football game near Philadelphia a month ago — including an 8-year-old girl who was killed — were almost certainly hit by shots fired by police officers.
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said Monday that he has asked for an investigative grand jury into the Aug. 27 gunfire in Sharon Hill that claimed the life of 8-year old Fanta Bility and wounded four other people.
Stollsteimer said a group of young males got into a fight that turned into gunfire Aug. 27 as spectators were leaving after the game between Pennsbury and Academy Park high schools. Three Sharon Hill officers were positioned opposite the exit, and as the gunfire broke out a car turned onto the street directly in front of the officers, he said.
“We have concluded that the gunfire, combined with the movement of the vehicle, precipitated responsive gunfire from the Sharon Hill police officers,” Stollsteimer said in a statement. “Our initial ballistics analysis has concluded with near certainty that four of the five gunshot victims, including Fanta Bility, were tragically struck by shots fired by the Sharon Hill police officers. We await final forensic reports.”
Stollsteimer said his office is conducting a review of the legality of the weapons discharge by the officers, who have been placed on administrative duties. The borough of Sharon Hill has hired a former Philadelphia district attorney to conduct an administrative review of the department’s policies and procedures on police use of deadly force.
The district attorney said he has also asked the president judge to empanel an investigative grand jury “to aid the investigation of the officers’ use of deadly force.” The lay panel is to hear testimony, issue a comprehensive report on what happened, and issue a presentment if members believe criminal charges are warranted, he said.
“I understand the community’s desire for closure but ask instead for continued patience as we work to provide justice and accountability for the all the victims of this tragedy,” he said.
The Sharon Hill police chief’s number wasn’t working Monday and the department said on its Facebook page Sept. 16 that its main phone lines were “still down.” A message seeking comment was sent to the borough mayor.
Sharon Hill borough is a small community of about 5,700 residents less than 2 miles north of Philadelphia International Airport.