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Council Votes To Fire Cops Charged With Shooting 8-Year-Old Fanta Bility

Sharon Hill, PA – The Sharon Hill Borough Council voted on Thursday night to fire all three of the Sharon Hill police officers charged in connection with the death of eight-year-old Fanta Bility.

The vote was held on Jan. 20 during a crowded meeting full of both community members who supported the officers and outraged residents who called for them to be terminated, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The council voted separately for each of the officers but the vote was the same across the board – 6 to 1 for the officers to be terminated immediately.

Sharon Hill Police Officers Devon Smith, Sean Dolan, and Brian Devaney did not attend the council meeting, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer announced the charges against the officers on Jan. 18, NBC News reported.

“Police have to be held accountable, as anybody else is, for deadly force,” Stollsteimer said.

“They picked the wrong target. They shot in the wrong direction at it. And they shot as that target was moving through a crowd of people,” the district attorney continued.

“And that’s why Fanta Bility is dead,” he concluded.

The incident occurred on Aug. 27 near the entrance of the Academy Park High School football stadium right after a game between that school and Pennsbury High School ended, WTXF reported.

It began with a verbal altercation between 16-year-old Angelo “AJ” Ford and 18-year-old Hasein Strand, WPVI reported.

The Delaware County District Attorney’s Office said Officers Smith, Dolan, and Devaney were positioned opposite the entrance to the stadium that people were leaving through, WTXF reported.

Police said Ford fired at least two shots at Strand in the direction of the Sharon Hill police officers who were stationed outside the football game that had just ended.

The officers returned fire at a vehicle they believe contained the shooters, in the direction of the football field.

Five people were shot during the incident, including eight-year-old Fanta Bility, WPVI reported.

Bility did not survive her wounds.

Investigators determined that four of the five people who were shot were struck by bullets fired by Sharon Hill police officers.

“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 written statement released on Sept. 27, 2021.

Prosecutors initially charged Ford and Strand in connection with Bility’s death, with Stollsteimer announcing that he was holding the teenagers who started the gun battle accountable for the murder of the little girl, WPVI reported.

“Under the laws of this commonwealth, my office has determined that [the defendants] should both be held criminally liable for the murder of Fanta Bility, as well as for the wounding of all of the bystanders,” the district attorney said.

But Stollsteimer announced on Jan. 18 that his office had withdrawn the murder charges previously filed against Ford and Strand, WPVI reported.

Ford is still facing charges for trying to kill Strand, and Strand has already pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for his part in wounding one of the juveniles who was shot, and to illegal possession of a firearm.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Strand will serve between 32 to 64 months in prison, WPVI reported.

Stollsteimer announced the charges against Officers Smith, Dolan, and Devaney at the same press conference.

All three officers were given an unsecured bond set at $500,000, WPVI reported.

“I fully realize that the tragic death of Fanta and the trauma inflicted on her family, the other victims, and community members involved, has been emotionally draining to all, including the investigators and prosecutors assigned,” Stollsteimer said.

“No one touched by this incident will ever be the same,” the district attorney continued. “I hope that today’s announcement will help the community begin to heal through the knowledge that all the individuals who fired guns that night are being held accountable for their actions under our laws.”

A preliminary hearing for the officers was scheduled for Jan. 27.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone

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