SHARON HILL, PA. (AP) — A town council near Philadelphia voted to fire three police officers days after charges were recommended over accusations they fired their weapons in the direction of a crowd leaving a high school football game, killing an 8-year-old girl and wounding three people.
Some members of the public voiced support for the officers while others expressed outrage and demanded police reforms as the Sharon Hill Council voted Thursday.
A grand jury Tuesday recommended charges against Devon Smith, Sean Dolan and Brian Devaney in the Aug. 27 shooting that killed Fanta Bility. Each was charged with 10 counts of reckless endangerment and one count of manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.
Angelo “AJ” Ford, 16, got into an argument with Hasein Strand, 19, and exchanged gunfire outside of the football game in the small borough just north of the Philadelphia International Airport. That gunfire included two gunshots in the direction of the three officers, who were monitoring the crowd as it left the game, authorities said.
The officers returned fire, shooting toward a car they believed was involved in the initial gunfire, striking the car and members of the crowd. Investigators later determined a women in the car was not responsible for the initial gunfire.
Strand has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for his role in wounding one of the children struck by gunfire and to illegal possession of a firearm. Under terms of the plea agreement, Strand will serve between 32 and 64 months in prison.
Ford is still facing charges for his “attempt to kill Strand,” authorities said.
Delaware County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 27 President Joseph Fitzgerald earlier issued a statement supporting the officers.
“This is a sad day for our officers, who face criminal charges for trying to do their jobs and keeping the community safe,” Fitzgerald wrote. “The FOP continues to support these fine officers and will provide a vigorous defense against these allegations.”