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January 21, 2022

Sharon Hill Council fires 3 police officers charged in fatal shooting of 8-year-old Fanta Bility

Councilmembers voted 6-1 in favor of relieving the cops of their duties

Investigations Police Shootings
Fanta Bility police officers fired Source/GoFundMe

Investigators determined that 8-year-old Fanta Bility was killed last summer by gunfire from Sharon Hill police officers.

The three Sharon Hill police officers facing criminal charges in the fatal shooting of 8-year-old Fanta Bility last August have been fired.

Sharon Hill Borough Council voted Thursday night to relieve officers Devon Smith, 34; Sean Dolan, 25; and Brian Devaney, 41, of their duties after they were charged with manslaughter and reckless endangerment Tuesday.

Six of the seven councilmembers voted in favor of the measure.

A two-month grand jury investigation in Delaware County found evidence that the three cops opened fire outside as fans were exiting Knight Park following an Aug. 27 football game between Academy Park High School and visiting Pennsbury High School, prosecutors said.

Bility, who had attended the game with her family, was struck in the back and died at the scene. Her 13-year-old sister and two other people also suffered injuries from gunfire that prosecutors determined came from police officers.

Bility and her sister, along with the other spectators, had turned to run back into the stadium as the police gunfire erupted. The other two victims struck by police also had been trying to get back into Knight Park. They suffered injuries to their lower extremities. 

The grand jury investigation found that the bullet that fatally struck Bility exited her body and was recovered from the track inside Knight Park. Ballistics evidence confirmed the bullet came from a Glock 17 service weapon used by Sharon Hill police, but investigators were unable to determine which of the three officers fired the deadly shot.

Police gunfire was initially prompted by gun shots between 16-year-old Angelo "AJ" Ford and 18-year-old Hasein Strand just a block away from the football stadium's exit. The officers were stationed near the exit to secure the area as spectators left the game. 

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer withdrew murder charges against the two teenagers, who have been charged with multiple crimes for their roles in the initial gun fight.

Sharon hill cops arrestedProvided images/Delaware County District Attorney's Office

The three Sharon Hill police officers also are accused of shooting in the direction of a dark Chevy Impala as the vehicle turned onto Coates Street, located just a block away from the football stadium exit on Calcon Hook Road.

Investigators determined the vehicle was occupied by two young women who had attended the football game and had nothing to do with the initial gun fight.

Twenty-five bullets traced to the service weapons of the officers were recovered from the scene, investigators said.

Devaney was not wearing a body camera on the night of the shooting. The body cameras worn by Smith and Dolan were recovered by detectives, but did not include any footage of either gunfire incident. Body cameras worn by Sharon Hill police are manually activated by officers. 

As part of an ongoing investigation, Sharon Hill Borough Council hired former Philadelphia District Attorney Kelly Hodge to conduct an administrative probe of the police department's policies and procedures.

Smith, Dolan and Devaney are each charged with one count of voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter, and 10 counts of recklessly endangering another person. Their preliminary hearings are scheduled for Jan. 27.

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