A special grand jury has decided not to press charges against Solomon D. Simmons III, the Virginia Beach cop who shot and killed Donovon Lynch, Pharrell Williams’ cousin, in March.
In a press conference on Wednesday (Dec. 1), Lynch’s family said they were disappointed but not surprised by the decision and pledged to continue to push for a federal investigation into his death.
Speaking to the grand jury, Deputy Commonwealth Attorney Scott Lang argued that Simmons acted in self-defense and perceived Lynch to be a threat that night, during which 50 gunshots had just rung out and 11 other people were shot, he said.
Lynch’s family, however, noted that the 25-year-old also had the right to be armed in self-defense during the chaotic night as he was a licensed gun owner. Virginia Beach police previously claimed that Lynch brandished a handgun in front of Simmons, but there is no evidence that he ever pointed the gun at the officer. Speaking with The Washington Post earlier this year, Lynch’s friend said he did not see him pull out a gun and instead recalled Simmons opening fire on them without warning.
“What are we supposed to read into that? That he was a threat because of size, because of his ‘big hands?’” McCollum asked. “What we saw yesterday, what we believe, is a lot of distractions … he was talking about everything but Donovon Wayne Lynch and what actually happened on that night.”
As reported by REVOLT, Lynch’s family previously filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against Simmons, the police department and others. In the suit, the family accused Simmons of turning off his body-worn camera, shooting Lynch without warning and moving his body after shooting him, “contributing to his death.”