The Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office held a news conference to provide an update regarding the death of Pharrell Williams’ cousin, Donovon Lynch, who was fatally shot at the hands of police officer Solomon Simmons. On Tuesday (Nov. 30), a grand jury ruled that Simmons would not be charged, citing “no probable cause” and considered the shooting to be justifiable self-defense.
The press conference comes months after Lynch’s family filed a $50 million lawsuit against the City of Virginia Beach. In return, the city filed a motion to dismiss. Investigators found that Simmons’ body camera was off during the time of the shooting and witness statements conflict about what occurred that night. One witness claimed he saw Lynch cock his gun back and said then the officer fired his shots, as reported by WTKR.
Lynch’s gun was found at the scene with one bullet in the chamber. However, there is no evidence that proves the gun was fired, officers say. Simmons claimed Lynch was crouched down and began to raise up after the gun was cocked, causing concern.
Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle stated during the press conference, “There were numerous people in that parking lot when Officer Simmons saw Mr. Lynch starting to come up with the firearm. So it is not only just whether the weapon was pointed at Officer Simmons. It was also— are the people in the parking lot at risk?”
In Oct. 2021, Pharrell revealed that his Something in the Water Festival will not be returning to Virginia Beach due to the “toxic energy” with the city’s leadership. He wrote in a letter, “I wish the same energy I’ve felt from Virginia Beach leadership upon losing the festival would have been similarly channeled following the loss of my relative’s life. I love my city, but for far too long it has been run by — and with toxic energy. The toxic energy that changed the narrative several times around the homicide of my cousin, [Donovon] Lynch, a citizen of Virginia, is the same toxic energy that changed the narrative around the mass murder and senseless loss of life at Building Number 2.”
Virginia Beach City Manager Patrick Duhaney confirmed that Simmons will remain on administrative assignment as the police department conducts an internal investigation. Duhaney anticipates the process will conclude no later than the end of 2022’s first quarter.