After months of protests, three officers are charged in shooting death of 8-year-old Fanta Bility



“We have now concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that it was, in fact, shots from the officers that struck and killed Fanta Bility and injured three others,” Stollsteimer said.

The officers were placed on administrative leave following the shooting. On Thursday, the Sharon Hill Borough Council will vote on whether to fire the officers, according to a statement from the council. 

“The entire Borough grieves for Fanta Bility and we again convey our deepest sympathies to her family and everyone affected by the shooting,” the statement read. “Today’s indictment of our police officers brings us to another solemn moment. Today we must reflect on our safety, and on those who are sworn to protect and serve.”

Bail was set at $500,000 for each officer and preliminary hearings have been set for Jan. 27 in the Springfield District Court.

In November, Stollsteimer filed charges of murder against two teens who are alleged to have initiated the shooting outside of the stadium.

Hasein Strand, 18, of Collingdale, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a firearm and charges of aggravated assault for his part in wounding a child bystander during the gunfight. Under the terms of his plea, Strand will serve a sentence of 32 to 64 months at a state correctional institute and will remain under court supervision until 2030, prosecutors said.

The other teen, Angelo Ford, 16, who is known as AJ, “remains charged with serious crimes for his attempt to kill Strand,” prosecutors said. A hearing for him was postponed last week after activists ramped up their protests.

Activists, civil rights lawyers, and others have eviscerated Stollsteimer over his treatment of the two teens after he used an opaque legal strategy of “transferred intent.” Stollsteimer argued that by engaging in a gunfight, the teens were technically responsible for Bility’s death—even though she was shot directly in the back by police gunfire. 

Several Philadelphia City Council members called Stollsteimer’s decision a “miscarriage of justice” and said that while Ford and Strand deserved to be held accountable, “the way in which this case has unfolded defies logic.”


“What he has done is absolutely shameful,” Sean Damon, organizing director of Amistad Law Project in Philadelphia, told ABC News, asserting that Stollsteimer “is offering up these young people … as a distraction and a deflection away from holding the police accountable for what they did.”

Tuesday, the charges against the teens were dropped by Stollsteimer, according to The New York Times.

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

Lawyers for the three officers have said their clients are “innocent” and remain “heartbroken because of this senseless violence.” 

Joseph Fitzgerald, president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Delaware County, called it a “sad day for our officers” when they “face criminal charges for trying to do their jobs and keeping the community safe.”

In 2015, The Washington Post began chronicling every fatal shooting by an on-duty police officer in the U.S. Since then, over 5,000 shootings have been recorded. According to Philip M.Stinson, a professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University who tracks criminal prosecution of police officers, only 155 officers have been charged. 

“It seems that the very small percentage of cases that result in officers’ being charged warrants closer examination,” Stinson told the Times. “It’s really shocking when you start to look at the numbers. It’s only when you aggregate the data, that is when you realize it is a systematic problem.”

Bility died in her mother’s arms three days before she was set to begin third grade. Bility’s 13-year-old sister, Mamasa, was injured by police fire. 

Smith, 34, and Dolan, 25, did not capture the shooting on their body cameras. Devaney, a 41-year-old who has been with the department since 2005, was not wearing his camera.

The family told ABC News they are thankful for the charges brought against the officers, an attorney for the Bility family, Bruce L. Castor Jr., said in a statement released by the district attorney’s office Tuesday.

“The family appreciates that the District Attorney has kept the family informed at every stage of this investigation,” Castor said. “From the beginning, he assured them that he would seek justice for Fanta, and today’s charges indicate that he’s done exactly that. They made the right call.”


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