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. As reported by REVOLT, the 25-year-old was killed at the city’s Oceanfront area back in March.
According to the suit, which was filed in Norfolk’s U.S. District Court by Donovon’s father Wayne Lynch, the family is demanding $50 million from the city and requesting a jury trial. The wrongful death suit names officer Solomon Simmons as the alleged shooter, though the Virginia Beach Police Department hasn’t confirmed the responding officer’s identity.
Wayne and his family accuse Simmons of using excessive force against Donovon and blame the city for failing to train officers on the use of deadly force and other techniques that could have prevented his death. Attorneys further claim that Simmons acted with gross negligence, failed to give any warning before firing the shots and didn’t render any aid to Donovon after shooting him.
As reported by REVOLT, police were responding to three separate shootings in the city on the night of Donovon’s death. The lawsuit states that he and his friend, Darrion Marsh, were trying to leave the area after shots rang out. While the two men were walking to their cars, Simmons “immediately, unlawfully and without warning” fired his gun twice, the lawsuit states, killing Donovon.
Attorneys also claim that the officer knew Donovon, who “was unmistakable as anyone else” due to his 6’5” 305-pound build. The man was also known in the city as a former offensive lineman for the University of Virginia College at Wise and also as Pharrell’s cousin.
In addition to the $50 million from the city, the Lynch family is also suing Simmons for $350,000.
The Virginia State Police are currently investigating the shooting and Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott requested an independent probe by the Department of Justice. Police previously said the shooting officer’s body-worn camera was turned off during the incident for “unknown reasons.”
“They spent $5.5 million on bodycams and dashcams and they’re not then utilized,” Wayne told WAVY-TV after Donovon’s death. “They know my family; they know we not like this. It ain’t anything to do with none of that and for them to betray him like that is wrong.”
“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?”
He continued, “Knowing that if Donovon had been white he wouldn’t have gotten shot multiple times and left in the street for an inhumane amount of time, ’til the next morning, no gun in hand—that’s gravity. The race of the officer doesn’t pertain to the conversation because if Donovan had been white they would have never shot him like that. So, there is gravity. And there, too, is hope that things will change.”