Three Officers Charged In Fatal Shooting Of 8-Year-Old Fanta Bility

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Damir Mujezinovic

In August last year, a violent incident took place before a football game at the Academy Park High School in Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania.

Two teenagers, 16-year-old Angelo "AJ" Ford and 18-year-old Hasein Strand, got into a dispute and started shooting at each other.

Three Sharon Hill police officers responded to the incident by shooting in Ford and Strand's direction, but a car was caught in the crossfire.

Eight-year-old Fanta Bility was in that car. She was shot, and died at the scene. Below is the latest update on the tragic case.

Cops Charged

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Ford and Strand, and not the police officers, were charged with murder last year. The district attorney is now withdrawing those charges and charging the three officers who responded to the incident.

As reported by CBS News, officers Devon Smith, Sean Dolan and Brian Devaney were each charged with voluntary and involuntary manslaughter and 10 counts of reckless endangerment.

According to Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, it is now clear that the bullets that killed Fanta Bility and wounded three other people were fired from officers' guns.

Holding Cops Accountable

"We are now sure beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers not only shot but killed Fanta Bility, but they also wounded three other young people," Stollsteimer said in a statement supplied to CBS News.

"They returned fire at the wrong target, in the wrong direction, and into a group of people. That is what they are being held accountable for," the district attorney added.

The officers maintain their innocence, and claim they were simply trying to protect their community when they fired their guns.

'Emotionally Draining Case'

As People reported, Stollsteimer also said that Fanta's case has been "emotionally draining" for everyone involved.

"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. No one touched by this incident will ever be the same. 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," he stated.

'Terrible Tragedy'

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Bruce Castor, the attorney representing the Bility family, described what happened that day as a "terrible tragedy."

He said that Fanta "was a bright, bright, shining light, the kind of person that made people happy just by looking at her. And to have her gone is just a terrible, terrible tragedy."

Bility would have turned 9 last week. When she was killed, she was due to start third grade.

The preliminary hearing for Smith, Dolan, and Devaney has been set for January 27.