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August 13, 2023

Teen charged with killing Philly-born dancer O’Shae Sibley expected to argue self-defense

The 17-year-old New Yorker who stabbed Sibley plead ‘not guilty’ to hate crime charges stemming from the late July killing

Crime Dancers
O'Shea Sibley O'shea Sibley Fundraiser/GoFundMe

The 17-year-old charged in the stabbing death of Philadelphia-born dancer O'Shea Sibley plead not guilty to hate crime charges on Friday and is likely to argue that he acted in self defense.

The teenager who stabbed Philly-raised dancer O'Shae Sibley earlier this month has plead not guilty to a hate crime. Seventeen-year-old Dmitry Popov will likely argue self-defense in the killing, which stemmed from an argument at a New York City gas station in late July.

Despite his age, Popov is being tried as an adult in the incident, which caught the attention of NYPD hate crime investigators due to anti-LGBTQ and racist rhetoric used by Popov and others as they confronted Sibley and his friends while they danced to music by Beyoncé at Brooklyn gas station, according to the AP.

Sibley was mourned at a funeral at The Met in Philadelphia, the city where he got his start in the performing arts. The 28-year-old North Philly native is a veteran of West Philadelphia dance studio Philadanceco, where he remained for several years before moving to New York to pursue professional and creative opportunities.

"O'Shae was a student at the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts at Philadanco since the age of 14 and was also in our apprentice company D/2," the dance company wrote on Instagram shortly after Sibley's death.  "This news is absolutely heartbreaking and we believe no one deserves to be targeted for simply being themselves and living in their truth. We are keeping high hopes that justice will be served. He will be missed dearly. We ask that you also keep his family and loved ones in your prayers."

Sibley's death sparked an outpouring of grief and support from dancers, musicians and LGBTQ groups alike, including a tribute posted by Beyonce after the superstar learned of the incident involving an obvious fan of her music. Sibley was reportedly vogueing to songs from Beyoncé's latest album "Renaissance" just before the confrontation that lead to his death occurred.  Sibley's funeral drew over 200 friends, family and loved ones who came out to pay tribute to professional dance at The Met on North Broad Street.

“You’ve got one more time to come past my door and then you’re coming through my door,” said Philadelphia School of Dance Arts teach Karen Pendergrass, recalling a 14-year-old Sibley who would frequently appear outside her classroom door. “He took that class, he got a scholarship and from there he just flourished.”

Popov "certainly regrets the incident," his lawyer told reporters outside a New York City courtroom on Friday, but said his client nonetheless did not commit a crime during the course of the late night confrontation, which was partially captured on video. 

A GoFundMe set up by Sibley's father in the days following the dancer's death blew past its fundraising goal of $10,000 to bring in nearly $68,000.