Pharrell’s family files wrong death lawsuit over fatal police shooting of cousin

Donovon Lynch was leaving a Virginia Beach restaurant when he was approached by a Black officer who fatally shot him

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Donovon Lynch, a cousin to Pharrell Williams, was killed by a Virginia Beach police officer in March. Now Lynch’s father has filed a federal lawsuit, saying his son was “unlawfully” shot.

As theGrio previously reported, Lynch, 25, was killed in the early morning hours of March 27 along the city’s popular oceanfront strip of hotels and restaurants shortly after two other nearby shootings. Police said Lynch, a Black man, had a handgun and that it was recovered from the scene. But the officer’s body camera had not been activated.

Officer Solomon Simmons, who killed Lynch, is also Black.

The lawsuit notes that Lynch and a friend were at a restaurant when gunfire rang out, so they decided to leave. They encountered Simmons as they were walking toward their cars.

“Immediately, unlawfully, and without warning, Officer Simmons fired his police-issued firearm at Mr. Lynch, shooting him twice and killing him,” the lawsuit says, as reported by NBC News. “At all relevant times, Mr. Lynch was not speaking or acting in a manner that would suggest that he posed any threat, let alone a deadly threat, to Officer Simmons or anyone else.”

According to the suit, Simmons failed to identify himself as a member of law enforcement and he didn’t ask the victim for his identification.

It further states that the “shooting was motivated at least in part by Mr. Lynch’s race as a Black man.” The lawsuit names Simmons and the City of Virginia Beach as defendants, according to the report.

Williams has called for a federal investigation into the fatal police shooting of his cousin. The Grammy-winning producer and musician made the call in an Instagram post after attending his cousin’s funeral in Virginia Beach, where Williams grew up.

“I had to speak at my cousin’s funeral, and was choked up with emotions,” he wrote in the social media post. “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.”

Police released a statement in March claiming Simmons reported that Lynch was “brandishing a handgun at the time of the shooting.”

“It was recovered at the scene,” police said. “An independent witness affirmed that Mr. Lynch had been in possession of a handgun earlier on the evening of March 26, 2021.”

The department also released a photo of the firearm, claiming it belonged to Lynch.

Lynch lived in Virginia Beach. He was an offensive lineman for the University of Virginia’s College at Wise during the 2017 and 2018 seasons and was a 2019 graduate of the school. According to the family’s attorney, he owned a security business and had a license to carry a firearm. 

Lynch’s family is seeking unspecified damages and a federal investigation into the shooting.

“We’ve made repeated requests to have some things removed from their statement that they fabricated, and it’s not been done,” Lynch’s father, Wayne, said at a recent press conference.

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