3 Pennsylvania officers charged with manslaughter in fatal shooting of 8-year-old Fanta Bility

Officers Devon Smith, Sean Dolan and Brian Devaney were each charged with one count of voluntary manslaughter, one count of involuntary manslaughter and 10 counts of reckless endangerment, according to criminal complaints.

Involuntary manslaughter charges were “appropriate” in this case rather than third-degree murder because there was no evidence of malice, according to a news release from Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer’s office. Bail was set at $500,000, unsecured, for each defendant and a preliminary hearing was set for Jan. 27 in state court.

CNN has reached out to the three officers and their attorneys for comment, as well as the Sharon Hill Police Department.

Fanta was killed after two teenagers, Angelo “AJ” Ford and Hasein Strand, opened fire in a dispute outside a high school football game in suburban Philadelphia, according to the complaint. In response, the three officers, who were guarding the exit of the soccer match, fired at a vehicle that was driving on the street between the officers and the soccer stadium and spectators leaving the match.
The officers’ shots hit four people as they were leaving, including Fanta, whose injuries were fatal, according to the reports. Officers’ shots also hit a car driven by two girls going to the soccer game who were not involved in the original altercation between Ford and Strand, according to the complaints.

Investigators recovered 25 9mm cartridge cases from the area where officers fired, with ballistics evidence matching them to the officers’ service weapons, according to the complaint.

Stollsteimer also directed his office to drop murder charges against Ford and Strand for their role in Fanta’s murder, the prosecutor announced Tuesday.

“While I believe these defendants should be held accountable for initiating the series of events that ultimately led to Fanta Bility’s death, the events during the grand jury investigation make it appropriate to drop these charges at this time,” Stollsteimer said. in the statement.

Two Pennsylvania teens charged in the death of an 8-year-old boy who was shot to death by police

Strand pleaded guilty Tuesday to aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a firearm for his role in the Aug. 27 events. He will serve a prison term of 32 to 64 months and remain under judicial supervision until 2030, depending on the terms of his guilty plea, according to the statement.

Ford still faces charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and weapons possession, according to the district attorney’s office.

CNN has reached out to the public defender representing Ford and Strand for comment.

“From the moment the call was received on August 27, my team of investigators and prosecutors have worked tirelessly to achieve justice for Fanta and the other victims of that tragic night. Today’s charges are a major step forward in that process.” Stollsteimer said in the release.

“I am convinced that the prosecutor’s office and the grand jury did exactly what they should have done,” Bility family attorney Bruce Castor said in a statement to CNN on Tuesday. “I am very pleased with the way the prosecutor’s office handled the case and the Bility family is also very impressed.”


Leave a Comment