Three former Pennsylvania police officers pleaded guilty Thursday to ten counts of reckless endangerment in connection with the death of an 8-year-old girl who was shot while leaving a high school football game in suburban Philadelphia.
Fanta Bility was killed on August 27, 2021, when officers fired dozens of shots at a car driving through a crowd after gunshots broke out near the football field.
As part of the plea deals, the more serious charges of manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter against the three former Sharon Hill Borough officers were dropped. The Former Officers – Sean Dolan, 26; Devon Smith, 35; and Brian Devaney, 42 – remain on bail until a January hearing.
BACKGROUND:Three officers fired after fatal shooting of 8-year-old Fanta Bility
The shooting took place as the crowd left the stadium just after the game ended. An argument between a group of young men escalated into gunfire and shots were fired at police officers at the exit of the stadium, authorities said.
Police fired 25 shots at a car that passed the stadium and injured four people, including Fanta and her 12-year-old sister. Investigators later determined that the vehicle was not involved in the nearby shooting.
The teens involved in the initial shooting were charged with first-degree murder in connection with Fanta’s death, but the charges were later dropped. In January, the officers were fired and charged.
FIRST INVESTIGATION:Police likely fired shots that injured 3, girl killed after football match
Lawyers for the former officers tried multiple times to have the manslaughter charges dropped, arguing that the officers were trying to injure no one in the crowd and were unfairly targeted for being police officers. Prosecutors said they consulted Fanta’s family before reaching the plea deal, and relatives said ending the case was necessary to begin healing.
“After much prayer and discussion with our family, we decided it was in our best interest for the prosecutor to ensure that police officers take responsibility for their actions, admit that their reckless behavior has put many at risk and our Fanta kills,” Bility’s uncle Abu Bility said in a statement after the hearing.
‘TERRIBLE’:3 Pennsylvania officers charged with fatal shooting of 8-year-old
Contributions: The The Bharat Express News; Danielle Camilli, Bucks County Courier Times