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Three Former Pennsylvania Cops Plead Guilty in Tragic Shooting Death of 8-Year-old Girl

by Jo Ellen Nott

On November 11, 2022, three former Sharon Park police officers pleaded guilty to lesser charges in the death of an eight-year-old girl killed in the crossfire between them and two teenagers after a high school football game in August of 2021. The cops each pleaded guilty to 10 counts of reckless endangerment for their involvement in Fanta Bility’s death.

Fanta Bility was shot in the chest during the melee, which tragically occurred as she, her mother, and sister were exiting the stadium. The shooting took place outside Academy Park High School in Sharon Hill as fans were leaving a game against Pennsbury High School.  Fanta died in a hospital not long after the bullet pierced her chest.  Her 12-year-old sister was also wounded during the barrage. 

Sharon Hill police officers Devon Smith, 35, Sean Dolan, 26, and Brian Devaney, 42, were charged with a total of 12 counts of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment for the August 27 shooting in 2021, the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office said.  Only one of the three officers allegedly fired the fatal shot as he was shot at and returned fire; however, all three of the officers discharged their service weapons. Five people, including Fanta, were hit by those bullets. 

The former cops each pleaded guilty to 10 counts of reckless endangerment for their involvement in Fanta’s death.  They originally had been charged with an additional count of manslaughter and one count of involuntary manslaughter each.  The latter charges were dropped as part of their plea deal. 

Fanta’s family approved the deal hoping to begin the healing process knowing that the officers admitted to wrongfully killed Fanta. The Bility family expressed their grief in a press statement: “The agony we feel constantly reliving the loss of our dear Fanta who was just eight years old when she was killed by Sharon Hill police officers, is impossible to describe with words.”  The family also mentioned the trauma Fanta’s mother and siblings will bear for the rest of their lives after having watched the child be struck by a bullet.  

The sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 12, 2023, for the three who each bonded out on an unsecured $500,000.  The former cops now face up to 20 years each in prison, then a civil trial.  

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