Three Police Officers in Fanta Bility Shooting Sentenced to Probation, House Arrest

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Three former police officers who were fired after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges in connection with the death of an eight-year-old girl near Philadelphia have been sentenced to five years of probation, with the first 11 months on house arrest.

Fanta Bility
Fanta Bility ( Photo: WHYY )

Former police officers sentenced to probation with 11 months of house arrest in the case of an 8-year-old killed in a Pennsylvania football game shooting

The officers were accused of negligently firing 25 shots at a car they mistakenly thought was involved in gunfire that broke out after a high school football game in August 2021. Four people were hit by police gunfire, including the victim, Fanta Bility, who died in her mother’s arms. The investigation could not determine which officer fired the shot that killed her. The officers had been charged with voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, but those charges were dismissed in a plea agreement that saw them plead guilty to 10 counts of reckless endangerment.

During the hearing, the defendants spoke to Bility’s family, offering condolences and apologies. The family, who immigrated to the US from war-torn Liberia, accepted the officers’ apologies and forgave them, but they have a federal lawsuit pending against the defendants and the police department.

The sentencing capped an emotional hearing that lasted 90 minutes

The officers’ lawyers said they opened fire after sensing that gunfire was “whizzing” past their heads. The handling of the case had initially prompted outrage and protests from the Black community and others after the district attorney had charged two Black teens who engaged in gunfire a block away with the child’s death. Those charges were later dropped.

Delaware County Judge Margaret J. Amoroso commended both sides for not inflaming the rhetoric around the case, adding that it was about Bility’s life and that her life mattered. The family also said they did not think the case fits the national narrative simmering since 2020 over race and policing.


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