Von Brian Vitagliano, CNN
Three Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania police officers were charged Tuesday in connection with the shooting death of an 8-year-old boy fantastic ability while walking out of a high school football game on Aug. 27, prosecutors said.
According to the criminal complaints, officers Devon Smith, Sean Dolan and Brian Devaney were each charged with one count of first degree manslaughter, one count of involuntary manslaughter and ten counts of reckless endangerment.
Charges of manslaughter in this case are “appropriate” and not third-degree murder because there is no evidence of malice, according to a press release from Delaware District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer. Bail was set at $500,000 for each defendant, unsecured, and a preliminary hearing in state court was scheduled for January 27.
CNN has reached out to all three officers and their attorneys, as well as the Sharon Hill Police Department for comment.
Fanta was killed after two teenagers, Angelo “AJ” Ford and Hasein Strand, opened fire in an argument before a high school football game in suburban Philadelphia, the complaint said. In response, the three officers monitoring the outcome of the football game shot at a vehicle moving on the road between the officers and the football stadium and spectators leaving the game.
The officers’ shots hit four people who were leaving. including fanta, whose injuries were fatal, according to the complaints. Officers’ shots also hit a car being driven by two girls who were going to the football game, which complaints say was not involved in the original altercation between Ford and Strand.
Investigators recovered 25 9mm shell casings from the area where officers fired ballistic missiles Evidence they matched to the officers’ service weapons, the complaint said.
Stollsteimer also set up his office withdraw the murder charge against Ford and Strand for their role in the killing of Fanta, the prosecutor announced on Tuesday.
“While I believe these defendants should be held accountable for beginning the series of events that ultimately led to the death of Fanta Bility, developments during the grand jury investigation make it appropriate to withdraw these charges at this time ‘ Stollsteimer said in the press release.
Strand pleaded guilty Tuesday to aggravated assault and illegal possession of a firearm for his role in the August 27 events. He will serve a sentence of 32 to 64 months and remain under court supervision until 2030, under the terms of his plea, the release said.
Ford still faces charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon, prosecutors say.
CNN has reached out to the public defender representing Ford and Strand for comment.
“From the moment the call came in on August 27, my team of investigators and prosecutors have worked tirelessly to seek justice for Fanta and the other victims of that tragic night. Today’s indictments are a major step forward in that process,” Stollsteimer said in the press release.
“I am convinced that the DA’s office and the grand jury did exactly what they should have done.” Billy family attorney Bruce Castor said Tuesday in a statement to CNN. “I’m very pleased with how the Attorney General’s Office handled the case and the Bility family are very impressed as well.”
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