Lawyers want some charges dropped against 3 former officers in Fanta Bility shooting

Lawyers for three former officers charged in the deadly shooting of 8-year-old Fanta Bility argued Monday to have some of the charges dismissed.

Officers Devon Smith, Sean Dolan, and Brian Devaney were each charged with a total of twelve criminal counts of manslaughter and reckless endangerment, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer announced in January. 

The charges stemmed from a shooting outside an Academy Park High School football game in late August 2021. Investigators believe at least two shots were fired in the direction of the officers, who were monitoring the crowd as they exited the football stadium following the conclusion of that night's game.

The officers returned fire, shooting toward a car they believed was involved in the initial gunfire, striking the car and members of the crowd. Bility was the only one fatally struck as by the officer's bullets as she left the game with family members, according to officials.


Investigators later determined that the bullets fired towards the officers originated from an argument between 16-year-old Angelo "A.J." Ford and Hasein Strand, 19. Stollsteimer's office originally levied first-degree murder charges against both Ford and Strand, but those charges were later withdrawn. 

Ford is still facing charges for his "attempt to kill Strand," according to a release. Strand later pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for his role in wounding one of the children struck by gunfire and to illegal possession of a firearm.

The three officers were charged in January with manslaughter and reckless endangerment in the deadly shooting. They were later fired by the Sharon Hill Police Department following a borough vote. 

Nearly a month from the 1-year anniversary of Bility's death, lawyers for the officers argued Monday to have the manslaughter charges dropped. The defense argued that the officer's profession influenced the harsh penalties, which Stollsteimer called "absolutely wrong." 

"It doesn't matter who shot, what their profession was, if anybody had done what they did that night they would be facing the same charges," Stollsteimer said. 

Meanwhile, advocates gather outside a Delaware County courthouse on Monday to rebuke the effort to dismiss the charges. NAACP member Sheila Carter spoke addressed the crowd to illustrate her disdain. 

A Pennsylvania judge said she might have a decision on the case in mid-September.