Donovon Lynch’s father files lawsuit against police officer who fatally shot his son, City of Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The father of Donovon Lynch, the 25-year-old man shot and killed by a Virginia Beach police officer earlier this year at the Oceanfront, has filed a federal lawsuit against the officer and the City of Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Beach Police Department has yet to officially name the officer who fired the fatal shots on March 26, but he was named in the suit as Solomon D. Simmons III.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, June 21 in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, lists Lynch’s father Wayne Lynch as the plaintiff. He is requesting a jury trial and demanding $50 million in damages from Simmons and the city.

The lawsuit says Simmons used excessive force and acted with gross negligence when he shot and killed Lynch. The lawsuit also says he failed to properly identify himself beforehand or give any warning before firing the shots, and didn’t render medical aid afterwards.

The lawsuit emphasizes that Donovon Lynch was not a threat the night of the shooting, and was trying to leave the area with his friend Darrion Marsh as officers investigated gunshots that rang out around 11:20 p.m. Several other people were struck by gunfire that night, including DeShayla Harris, who was fatally shot in a separate incident.

When Lynch and Marsh were walking to their cars, Simmons “immediately, unlawfully, and without warning” fired his gun twice at Lynch, fatally wounding him, according to the lawsuit.

Simmons, who attorneys say knew Lynch beforehand, did not have his body camera on for “unknown reasons.” In addition to knowing Lynch, the lawsuit repeatedly points out Lynch “was unmistakable as anyone else” due to his 6 foot 5 inch, 305-pound frame. Lynch was a former offensive lineman for the University of Virginia College at Wise, and a cousin of musician Pharrell Williams.

The lawsuit also lists the City of Virginia Beach as a defendant, saying the city failed to properly train officers on the use of deadly force and other techniques that would have prevented Lynch’s death.

The lawsuit comes just two months after Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott requested a Department of Justice investigation into the shooting. The Virginia State Police are currently conducting an independent investigation.

Virginia Beach issued this statement from spokeswoman Julie Hill in the meantime: “We have not received service of the lawsuit so we cannot comment. Once we receive and digest it, we will respond to it appropriately.” 

On Aug. 9, Wayne Lynch filed an amended complaint, adding more information about how Simmons failed to follow VBPD policy by failing to turn on his body camera at all during the incident.

The amended complaint also claims Simmons and other officers did not bring Lynch to the hospital while he was still alive.

Finally, it also cites a history of excessive force by VBPD dating back decades. The lawsuit includes references to some newspaper articles from various publications, including the Washington Post and Virginian-Pilot.

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