Three US police officers were charged Tuesday with the death of an 8-year-old girl for whom there was an open murder case against two teenagers who were initially arrested.
On August 27, 2021, officers opened fire on a vehicle outside a high school football game near Philadelphia after hearing gunshots a block away.
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Police thought there were armed suspects in the car, but who was inside was, among others, the girl Fanta Bility.
Prosecutors had argued that the tragedy was caused by two teenagers who shot each other to other times before.
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The district attorney filed first-degree murder charges against the two youths in November.
Prosecutors said the two, aged 16 and 18, had “initiated the fatal events” and were therefore responsible for Fanta’s death.
Those charges have been dropped.
Instead, police officers Devon Smith, Sean Patrick Dolan and Brian James Devaney face charges of voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment.
According to the newspaper Philadelphia InquirerOfficers were monitoring the crowd when they heard gunshots about 150 feet away and turned to see a car heading toward them.
The police officers they fired 25 bullets which reached four people, including Fanta and her 12-year-old sister. The little girl died in her mother’s arms.
“We are now certain beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers not only shot but killed Fanta Bility and also injured three other youths,” Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer told CBS News.
“They struck back at the wrong target, in the wrong direction, and at a group of people. That is what they are being held responsible for,” he continued.
Stollsteimer said his office had known since September that the bullets that caused the death were fired by officers.
“He made people happy”
A lawyer for the Bility family said that Fanta “was a bright, shining, shining light, the kind of person who made people happy just by looking at her.”
“That he left is a terrible, terrible tragedy,” he added.
Attorneys for the three officers released a joint statement maintaining their innocence and saying they “remain heartbroken for all who have suffered as a result of this senseless violence.”
“This is a terrible tragedy that was caused by armed and violent criminals who turned a high school football game into a crime scene in which an innocent girl lost her life and others were seriously injured,” they added in the statement. .
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