crimes

Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania cops Brian Devaney, Devon Smith, Sean Dolan charged in fatal shooting of Fanta Bility

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Brian James Devaney, 41, Devon G. Smith, 34, and Sean Patrick Dolan, 25, were each charged on January 18, 2022 with voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and 10 counts of reckless endangerment. They are police officers in Sharon Hill, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States.

Just before 9:00 p.m. on August 21, 2021, gunfire erupted while Sharon Hill Police Department officers including Devaney, Smith and Doland were monitoring the crowd leaving a football game at Academy Park High School in Sharon Hill. It was the season opener against Pennsbury High School of Fairless Hills, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

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That night, Hasein Strand, 19, and Angelo “AJ” Ford, 16, allegedly got into an argument and exchanged gunfire outside the football field. Two of the shots were fired in the direction of the officers, who responded by firing in the direction of the stadium and toward a car they mistakenly believed had been the source of the initial gunshots.

At least three people were injured and Fanta Bility, 8, was fatally shot. The girl died from a gunshot wound to the chest at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Lansdowne, Delaware County.

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On September 2, 2021, prosecutors said there was a high probability that Bility and the other victims on August 21, 2021 were struck by bullets fired by Devaney, Smith and Doland, not by Ford and Strand. On November 10, 2021, prosecutors filed criminal charges against Ford and Strand, including murder charges that were later dropped.

Ford remains charged with serious crimes for his attempt to kill Strand. Also on January 18, 2022, Strand pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and illegal possession of a firearm. 

Devaney, Smith and Doland have been released each on unsecured $500,000 bail. They are represented by Raymond Driscoll, Steven Patton and Charles Gibbs.

The three Sharon Hill Police Department are “innocent and remain heartbroken because of this senseless violence,” the lawyers said in a statement obtained by the New York Times. The officers “face criminal charges for trying to do their jobs and keeping the community safe,” Joseph Fitzgerald, president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Delaware County, said in another statement obtained by the publication.

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