Two Teens Charged With Murder Of 8-Year-Old Girl Who Was Shot And Killed By Police

Photo: Deleware District Attorney / NBC 10 Philadelphia 
Angelo Ford, Fanta Bility

Two teenagers in Pennsylvania are being charged with murder after the death of an 8-year-old girl who was shot by police.

The Delaware County District Attorney’s office determined that the two teenagers were at fault for initiating the deadly shooting that occured on August 27 outside an Academy Park High School football game in Sharon Hill.

The teens had gotten into an argument at the game and “exchanged multiple gun shots at each other,” in the 900 block of Coates Street in Sharon Hill,” said DA Jack Stollsteimer in a press release.

Pennsylvania police shot the child but later arrested the teens.

Three officers responded to the scene, where one of the officers opened fire on a vehicle that they mistakenly thought was involved in the gunfight, causing 8-year-old Fanta Bility to be shot once in the back.

One of the teenagers, Angelo “AJ” Ford, 16, was arrested Wednesday and is being held without bond in connection to the death of Bility.

The second teen, Hasein Strand, 18, surrendered himself to authorities on Thursday afternoon.

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Both Strand and Ford are being charged with murder, despite neither of them firing the bullet that killed Bility.

In addition to first-degree murder, both suspects have been charged with five counts of attempted murder, five counts of recklessly endangering another person, as well as gun-related charges.

The DA claims the teen are 'criminally liable.'

"Under the laws of this Commonwealth, my office has determined that Ford and Strand should both be held criminally liable for the murder of Fanta Bility, as well as for the wounding of all of the bystanders," Stollsteimer said.

Tanner Rouse, the first district attorney for Delaware County said in a statement to The Philadelphia Inquirer that the legal basis for charging the teens is “very simple.”

"They were attempting to kill one another that night, and as a direct result a little girl is dead."

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The DA’s office released preliminary findings in the investigation which determined that when officers returned fire, they likely struck four members in the crowd, including the shots that killed Bility and wounded her 13-year-old sister.

Though the Bility family feels that the officers are the ones to blame.

"The DA is gonna have a tough time in a transferred intent case charging these fellas with first-degree murder," the family’s attorney, Bruce Castor, said in an interview with ABC 6. "It does not, however, remove the focus from the fact that it was police officers acting recklessly and inappropriately that fired the fatal round that killed Fanta Bility."

Accidental shootings by law enforcement have happened more frequently in recent years all across the U.S.

They’ve caused hundreds of injuries to officers, suspects and bystanders, and sometimes they’ve caused deaths.

An investigation conducted by the Associated Press found that officers don’t get the training they need to handle their guns proficiently, especially in life-and-death situations.

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Most officers are, at most, tested only once or twice a year in “qualifications” that measure a minimum level of firearms proficiency. 

Fanta Bility family do not blame the teens.

The Bility family have since filed a lawsuit against the Sharon Hill Police Department back in mid-October alleging that the two officers willfully and maliciously caused Fanta’s death and injured her sister.

The DA’s office is continuing a review of the actions of all parties involved in the shooting.

A grand jury will review the case on November 18 and determine whether the police officers’ use of deadly force was justified. 

As of now, the officer’s names have not been released, but they were placed on paid administrative leave.

But, the Bility family wants justice for both Fanta and her older sister, claiming that Delaware County should fire them instead.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.