The family of Donovon Lynch, Pharrell’s cousin who was shot and killed by a police officer, is now suing the city of Virginia Beach. The 25-year-old was killed at the city’s Oceanfront area back in March.
via: NBC News
The father of Donovon Lynch, the slain cousin of Grammy-winning producer and musician Pharrell Williams, has filed a federal lawsuit, saying that his son was innocent and posed no threat when he was fatally shot by a Virginia Beach police officer.
Lynch, 25, was killed in March following a chaotic night of shootings at the oceanfront. At the time of his death, police were investigating three shootings in the area.
Lynch’s father said in a lawsuit filed Monday that his son was not involved in the violence but was “unlawfully” shot twice and killed by Officer Solomon Simmons.
According to the suit, Lynch was at a restaurant with a friend when gunfire rang out around 11:20 p.m. ET March 26. Lynch and his friend decided to leave and were walking toward their cars when they encountered Simmons.
“Immediately, unlawfully, and without warning, Officer Simmons fired his police-issued firearm at Mr. Lynch, shooting him twice and killing him,” the lawsuit says. “At all relevant times, Mr. Lynch was not speaking or acting in a manner that would suggest that he posed any threat, let alone a deadly threat, to Officer Simmons or anyone else.”
Lynch was not a suspect in the incident Simmons was responding to, according to the suit, which alleges the officer failed to identify himself as law enforcement and did not take the time to learn Lynch’s identity.
It further states that the “shooting was motivated at least in part by Mr. Lynch’s race as a Black man.”
The lawsuit names Simmons and the City of Virginia Beach as defendants. Simmons could not be reached Tuesday at phone numbers listed for him. A city attorney said they were made aware of the filing on Monday but have not yet been served, so they could not comment on the lawsuit.
Virginia Beach police have not publicly identified the officer who shot and killed Lynch, and the department did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Police released a statement in March and said that the involved officer, as well as an officer who witnessed the incident, reported that Lynch was “brandishing a handgun at the time of the shooting.”
“It was recovered at the scene,” police said. “An independent witness affirmed that Mr. Lynch had been in possession of a handgun earlier on the evening of March 26, 2021.”
The department also released a photo of the firearm it says belonged to Lynch that was recovered at the scene.
Earlier this month, Pharrell opened up about the tragedy in an interview with Town & Country Magazine.
“We had to bury my cousin on my birthday,” he said. “It was bittersweet. The way he died was bitter. Where he is right now is sweet. I wasn’t able to deliver the speech with the fire and intention I wanted because I was just choked with emotion. It’s not just the loss of life. It’s also the cause of the loss of life. And it’s a much larger problem, you know?”