Three Police Officers Found Guilty of Reckless Endangerment After Killing 8-Year-Old Girl With Stray Bullet

On August 27, 2021, three Sharon Hill police officers were monitoring a crowd of innocent people leaving a football game at Academy Park High School when they heard reports of a gunfight nearby. Not long after, the police officers hastily fired 25 gunshots at a car suspected of being involved in the gunfight. 

Some of those 25 gunshots hit the car, but some of them missed and flew past the car – striking four of the innocent people walking out of the football game. One of those people was 8-year-old Fanta Bility, a daughter of immigrants, who was at the game to watch her sister as a cheerleader for the first time.

Fanta later died as a result of the gunshot wounds, sparking a flurry of public outcry in the heat of the movement against police brutality. Now nearly 15 months later, justice is finally starting to play its course and the family will soon get an opportunity to begin the healing process as we await the sentencing. 

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On November 10, 2022, the Bility family moved one step closer to justice when the three now-former police officers – Brian Devaney, 41, Devon Smith, 34, and Sean Dolan, 25 – were found guilty on 10 counts of reckless endangerment. The sentencing is currently being scheduled for January 12, 2023. 

The police officers agreed to plead guilty to the 10 counts as part of a plea deal that included dropping the two counts of voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. All three police officers were facing those two counts because investigators were unable to determine which of their bullets killed the little girl.

Early reports indicate the police officers could be facing up to 20 years in prison, though it’s unlikely that they will be sentenced to the maximum amount. Nonetheless, the Bility family is relieved to see an end in the case is near – adding that they haven’t had a moment to begin the healing process since losing Fanta. 

“Therefore, after much prayer and discussion with our family, we determined 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,” said Abu Bility, the little girl’s uncle. 

Who Were the Police Officers Shooting At?

Three Police Officers Found Guilty of Reckless Endangerment After Killing 8-Year-Old Girl With Stray Bullet
via CBS Philadelphia

When the story initially broke towards the end of summer 2021, many people were left asking the same questions – who were these three police officers shooting at? Investigators determined the police officers were responding to multiple gunshots heard in the area, which was believed to be aimed at them. 

Despite innocent people being in harm’s way, the police officers fired 25 shots at a car believed to be the source of the gunshots. Police later learned the gunshots came from two individuals – Angelo “AJ” Ford and Hasein Strand – who were involved in a nearby gunfight. They were both arrested immediately. 

In fact, Ford and Strand were eventually charged with the murder of Fanta Bility – not because they fired the gunshots that killed the little girl, but because they were the reason why gunshots were being fired at the time. This sparked public outcry in itself, which got the charges replaced with aggravated assault. 

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Strand was later sentenced to 3-6 years in state prison, which he is currently serving. As for Ford, he is facing attempted murder, aggravated assault, and weapons offense charges; though he hasn’t been sentenced yet. Earlier this year, Ford escaped from a youth detention facility in Pennsylvania.

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