Three former Pennsylvania police officers pleaded guilty on Thursday to reckless endangerment in a shooting that killed eight-year-old Fanta Bility. The officers were originally charged with voluntary and involuntary manslaughter after firing in the direction of a crowd leaving a high school football game, according to the Associated Press.
According to the AP, officers heard gunshots outside a high school football game in the small Philadelphia suburb of Sharon Hill and began to fire their weapons.
In total, officers fired off a collective twenty-five rounds of gunshots toward the crowd and a car they believed the original gunfire had come from, according to the AP.
The shooting killed eight-year-old Bility. Three additional members of the crowd were wounded by police gunfire, according to the AP.
Lawyers for the three officers argued in a September hearing that their clients had not intended to harm anyone in the crowd.
But regardless of their intent, Bility’s death continues to haunt her bereaved family.
“The agony we feel constantly re-living the loss of our dear Fanta, who was just 8 years old when she was killed by Sharon Hill police officers, is impossible to describe with words,” said Bility’s uncle Abu Bility, according to the AP.
The District Attorney originally charged the men–Sean Dolan, Devon Smith, and Brian Devany—with more serious offenses.
“Tragically, our investigation has now determined that there is a high probability that the responsive gunfire of the Sharon Hill Police Officers struck four victims, including the shots that killed 8-year-old Fanta Bility and wounded her sister,” said the DA in a written statement in September of 2021.
But on Thursday, the former officers simply pled guilty to reckless endangerment, which carries a lesser sentence.
Prosecutors told the AP they’d worked with Fanta’s family on the officer’s plea deal. And that the family had informed them that they just wanted time to heal.
“After much prayer and discussion with our family,” said Abu Bility, “we determined that 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.”
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