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Family of Donovon Lynch files wrongful death lawsuit against Virginia Beach for $50M

Donovon Lynch
Posted at 12:14 PM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 12:34:25-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The legal team for the family of Donovon Lynch, the man who was fatally shot by a Virginia Beach officer on March 26 at the Oceanfront, has filed a complaint against the City of Virginia Beach.

They said the complaint is about the tragic shooting and killing of Lynch. The shooting gained national attention due to the victim’s relation to Pharrell Williams, who shared news of Lynch’s death in a since-deleted Instagram post and spoke at Lynch’s memorial service in April.

The legal team said the complaint provides some additional context around the shooting as well as the police response.

It also names the officer involved for the first time: Solomon Simmons.

The legal team went on to say, "Counts brought against the city and the officer involved include wrongful death, failure to properly train and supervise, gross negligence and more."

Previously, the Virginia Beach NAACP branch also called for change after the officer's body camera was not activated during the shooting.

Following these calls, the Virginia Beach Police Department announced changes to their body camera policy and training.

The department has now implemented a new policy that as soon as an officer is en route, they must activate their body camera. The older policy stated that an officer only had to activate the camera once they were on scene.

The legal team's press release said, "A youth volunteer and member of Faith World Ministries, Donovon Lynch was fatally shot by Officer Simmons on March 26 at the Oceanfront in Virginia Beach while walking back to his car after leaving a restaurant with a friend. Officer Simmons' body camera was not activated at the time, and the police department has not been forthcoming with additional information about the shooting. The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation."

News 3 tried contacting Simmons Monday night for comment about the lawsuit, but were unable to reach him.

Below are some key points from the legal filing:

  • Upon information and belief, the officer failed to attempt to stop or otherwise determine the identity of Mr. Lynch prior to firing his police-issued firearm
  • During the incident, the officer failed to activate the body camera that he was wearing. The body camera should have been activated pursuant to Virginia Beach Police policies, procedures, and/or protocols
  • Upon information and belief, the officer failed to render life-saving medical aide and/or failed to cause others to render life-saving medical aide to Mr. Lynch after shooting him twice.

Part of the documents also state the family is suing for $50 million and demand a trial by jury.

Attorney Alex Spiro, who has represented high profile people like Jay-Z, Robert Kraft, Elon Musk and more, has joined the legal team for the case as well, they announced.

News 3 reached out to the legal team for comment. While they were unavailable for an interview, Wayne Lynch, Donovon's father, provided the following statement:

The past few months have been heartbreaking, but today is the first step toward getting justice for Donovon.
Wayne Lynch, Donovon Lynch's father

We also reached out to the City of Virginia Beach, which provided us with the following statement:

Because we have not received service of the lawsuit, we cannot comment on it or any of its contents. Once we receive and digest it, we will respond to it in accordance with all legal requirements.
City of Virginia Beach

News 3 also reached out to the Virginia Beach Police Department for comment regarding this lawsuit, and as of Monday night there has been no response.