By Lauren Victoria Burke
A grand jury has ruled that a Virginia Beach Police Officer who shot Donovan Lynch on March 26 will not face charges.
Lynch was shot to death by Virginia Beach Officer Solomon Simmons. Lynch is a cousin of musician and Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams. Lynch’s death has been under investigation since his shooting.
Lynch’s father recently filed a $50 million lawsuit against Officer Simmons. Simmons is Black. The wrongful death suit is likely to be in court next year if it survives a motion to dismiss filed by the city of Virginia Beach.
Lynch was armed with a gun at the time of the shooting which occurred on a night of violent activity by other individuals at Virginia Beach’s oceanfront.
During a lengthy news conference on November 30, Virginia Beach prosecutors said Officer Simmons was justified in protecting himself after Lynch allegedly cocked his gun and pointed it towards a parking lot.
Officer Simmons’ body camera was turned off during the moments when he shot Lynch. Media reports reveal that there are conflicting witness statements regarding how Donovan Lynch was killed.
Lynch’s funeral earlier this year was attended by Rev. Dr. William Barber and many local politicians. His death reignited debate around the policy question of qualified immunity and how liable police officers should be for death and injury they may cause while on duty.
Over the last ten years, there have been several deaths in police custody shootings that have gained national attention. Most of them have involved video footage. They include the police shootings of Eric Garner, George Floyd, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Philando Castille, and Walter Scott.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is a political analyst who appears regularly on #RolandMartinUnfiltered. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on Twitter at @LVBurke