PHILADELPHIA ( Associated Press) – Three police officers have been charged with manslaughter and negligent endangerment after firing their weapons in the direction of a crowd of people exiting a high school football game outside Philadelphia, killing an 8-year-old girl. and three people were injured. ,
A grand jury recommended charges against three Sharon Hill police officers, Devon Smith, Sean Dolan and Brian Devaney, in the August 27 shooting that killed Fanta Ability. According to a news release from the Delaware County District Attorney’s office, shooting charges were previously filed against two black teens, prompting officers to shoot.
According to the charging documents, each officer was charged with 10 counts of reckless endangerment and one count of manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.
All three men had a preliminary hearing Tuesday morning and were released on $500,000 bail, according to court records. A message left to the law firm McMonagle, Perry, McHugh, Mischak and Davis, which is representing all three men, was not immediately returned Tuesday.
Investigators say Angelo “AJ” Ford, 16, got into an argument with Haseen Strand, 19, and exchanged gunfire outside an August 27 football game at Sharon Hill, a small borough north of Philadelphia International Airport. be provided. Officials said that gunfire included two bullets directed at three officers, who were monitoring the crowd as it was leaving the game.
The officers returned that gunshot, firing their weapons toward a car believed to have been involved in the initial gunfire, killing the car and members of a crowd of people leaving the game. Investigators later determined that the women in the car were not responsible for the initial shooting.
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stolsteimer previously said it was highly likely that Biles and three of the four others who were wounded by gunfire were killed by police. He said on Tuesday that investigators were now convinced that he was killed by police bullets.
Joseph Fitzgerald, president of the Delaware County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 27, issued a statement supporting the officers.
“This is a sad day for our officers, who face criminal charges for trying to do their job and keep the community safe,” Fitzgerald wrote. “The FOP continues to support these fine officers and will provide a vigorous defense against these allegations.”
Stollsteimer’s office also announced Tuesday that murder charges related to the murder of Ability were being withdrawn against two black teens.
“While I believe that these defendants should be held accountable for starting the chain of events that eventually led to the death of Fanta Ability, developments during the grand jury investigation are at this point in time to withdraw these allegations.” Suitable for this,” Stollsteimer wrote in the email release.
Stolstimer initially said in November that the charges of first-degree murder were warranted under the legal doctrine of transferred intent, meaning that his actions set off the chain of events that led to Billy’s death. .
Earlier on Tuesday, Strand pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for his role in injuring one of the children killed by gunfire and possessing a firearm. In an emailed news release, a spokesperson said that under the terms of the plea agreement, Strand would serve a prison sentence of 32 to 64 months.
Ford is still facing charges for “attempt to kill Strand,” according to the release. A preliminary hearing for Ford was postponed last week as dozens of people gathered in the media courtyard to protest first-degree murder charges against the teens and to demand indictment of the officers.
Stolstimer, a Democrat elected on a reform agenda, has faced increasing criticism from members of his own party since accusing the teens in November.
At least two Democratic committees in Delaware County urged Stolstemmer to recuse himself from the case and turn it over to the state attorney general’s office, while five members of the Philadelphia City Council issued a statement last week condemning what they called Said “shocking miscarriage of justice”. ,
The names of the officers were previously withheld by the boroughs. A message left by officers asking about how long they had served in the department and information on their employment status was not immediately returned Tuesday.
A message to Bruce Castor, the attorney representing Billy’s family, was not immediately returned. Castor, a former prosecutor in neighboring Montgomery County who also represents some of the others who testified to the grand jury in the case, indicated last week that charges could come.
“I think people in the community will feel dramatically different about how the matter is being handled by this time next week,” Castor said on Thursday.
Borough officials also hired an outside firm to investigate the police department’s training and policies after the shooting. That audit was still going on till Tuesday.