Three former Sharon Hill police officers charged with the death of 8-year-old girl Fanta Bility accepted a plea deal on Thursday to lesser charges that come with lighter penalties.
According to AP, Sean Dolan, 26, Devon Smith, 35, and Brian Devaney, 42 pleaded guilty to 10 counts each of reckless endangerment. The agreement also included the dismissal of manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter charges, which in the state of Pennsylvania, is punishable by up to 10-20 years in prison. The lesser reckless endangerment charge is punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $5000.
AP also reported that the family of Fanta Bility worked with prosecutors to reach the plea deal.
“The agony we feel constantly re-living the loss of our dear Fanta, who was just 8 years old when she was killed by Sharon Hill police officers, is impossible to describe with words,” Bility’s uncle said after the hearing.
“After much prayer and discussion with our family, we determined that it was in our best interest for the district attorney to ensure that the police officers take responsibility for their actions, admit to their reckless conduct endangering many, and killing our Fanta.”
The Bility family has filed a federal lawsuit against the officers and the Sharon Hill Borough Police Department.
On Aug. 27, 2021, Fanta Bility was shot and killed by police outside a suburban Philadelphia high school football game in Sharon Hill.
The incident began when witnesses told police two teenagers had a verbal altercation that turned into a gunfight. As officers were helping bystanders exit the football stadium they began to hear gunfire. The officers fired their weapons in the direction of the stadium, shooting four people, and killing Fanta Bility.
A grand jury later determined that officers Devon Smith, Sean Dolan, and Brian Devaney fired 25 shots, injuring three and killing Bility. Each officer was charged with 12 counts of manslaughter and reckless endangerment.
Two teenagers who fired the initial shots which prompted officers to return fire were originally charged with the murder of Bility, but the charges were later dropped.
After the plea deal was reached, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer gave his condolences to the family.
“Fanta’s death was a tragedy for her family, her friends, and for the entire community — and nothing that happened in the courtroom today can lessen the grief that we have all felt since that terrible night,” he said.
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