The family of Pharrell Williams has filed a suit against the city of Virginia Beach for what they believe is the wrongful death of Williams’ cousin, Donovon Lynch. On the evening of May 26, Lynch, 25, was shot and killed by a police officer while at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. The plaintiff, Lynch’s father Wayne Lynch, is requesting $50 million in damages, as well as $350,000 from Solomon Simmons, the officer who fired the shots that killed Lynch’s son. Lynch is also seeking a jury trial for the murder of his son. He’s accusing Simmons of using excessive force and acting with gross negligence in his encounter with the deceased and failing to identify himself as an officer of the law while attempting to verbally deescalate the situation before discharging his weapon or providing medical assistance.
The lawsuit—filed on Monday (June 21) in Norfolk’s U.S. District Court—accuses the city of Virginia Beach of failing to properly train officers on the use of deadly force and other de-escalation techniques. It also argues that Lynch was not a threat and that Simmons and Lynch had known each other prior to the shooting that occurred while police were investigating reports of gunshots in the area.
Simmons, who the suit says “immediately, unlawfully and without warning” fired at Lynch and was not wearing a bodycam during the incident, Lynch’s father noted while speaking with WAVY-TV. “They spent $5.5 million on bodycams and dashcams, and they’re not then utilized,” Wayne Lynch said. “They know my family, they know we not like this. It ain’t anything to do with none of that, and for them to betray him like that is wrong.”
In a recent interview, Pharrell shared his feelings on his cousin’s tragic murder.
“We had to bury my cousin on my birthday,” the veteran hitmaker said. “It was bittersweet. The way he died was bitter. Where he is right now is sweet. I wasn’t able to deliver the speech with the fire and intention I wanted because I was just choked with emotion. It’s not just the loss of life. It’s also the cause of the loss of life. And it’s a much larger problem, you know?
“Knowing that if Donovan had been white he wouldn’t have gotten shot multiple times and left in the street for an inhumane amount of time, ’til the next morning, no gun in hand—that’s gravity. The race of the officer doesn’t pertain to the conversation, because if Donovan had been white they would have never shot him like that. So there is gravity. And there, too, is hope that things will change.”