‘We must do better’: Celebration of life for Donovon Lynch held in Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The celebration of life for Donovon Lynch, the man shot and killed by Virginia Beach police at the Oceanfront on March 26, was held Monday morning in Virginia Beach.

The Rev. William Barber, a national speaker and community organizer, delivered Lynch’s eulogy and Pharrell Williams, Lynch’s cousin, also spoke.

Williams called out city leaders and proposed a forum for the City of Virginia Beach to discuss “who we were, who we are, and who we’d like to be.”

“Virginia Beach you need to talk. Talk about your issues, talk about your struggles so we can get past them. The misinformation, the mischaracterizations and — forgive me — but it took the mayor a week to reach out this family. There are state dignitaries here, there are city officials here — why? Because there’s something staring — there’s something staring in the spirit of Virginia Beach. We must do better,” said Williams.

After speaking at the service, Williams posted a follow-up message on his verified Instagram account. He called for a federal investigation into the shooting.

He wrote: “Thank you God for my 48th lap around the Sun.
This one is symbolic and a first because I had to speak at my cousin’s funeral, and was choked up with emotions. Too many unanswered City and State questions.
Respectfully, I am calling for a Federal investigation.
I also humbly ask that you all keep the family in prayer.
His name is Donovon Wayne Lynch.”

You can watch Williams’ full remarks from the celebration of life below:

“When death happens like this, with police, there must be a mandate for truth. We can’t just push it and sweep it under the rug. We will no longer just bury our sons,” said Barber.

The service quickly turned into a march down the street from the church to Donovon Lynch’s final resting place at a nearby cemetery.

Loved ones say they’ll pick up where Donovon Lynch left his life plans and as far as his case goes, pray the truth comes to light. 

The 25-year-old was shot and killed last Friday by a Virginia Beach police officer during the chaos at the Oceanfront. He was one of two people killed during the shootings.

Days after the shooting, Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate asked for the Virginia State Police to take over the investigation into the incident.

“The Lynch family and the involved officer each deserve a comprehensive and thorough investigation into this incident, and we appreciate the public’s patience as we pursue every facet of it,” Neudigate said in the statement.

The officer involved in the shooting, who’s been with the department for five years, was equipped with a body camera, but it was not turned on for unknown reasons, Neudigate said.

The Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Chesapeake Field Office is asking anyone who saw the encounter between the police officer and Lynch, or anyone who has other information on the incident, to come forward.

Virginia Beach police have said Lynch brandished a firearm before the officer shot him. A firearm was found at the scene, but Lynch’s family said he was legally allowed to carry that weapon.

Anyone with information or cell phone video before, of, or after the shooting should contact the Virginia State Police at 757-424-6800 or by email at questions@vsp.virginia.gov. Anonymous tips are welcome.

Watch the full ceremony below:

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