A special grand jury has cleared the Virginia Beach officer who fatally shot a Black man armed with a gun.
Donovon Lynch, the cousin of superstar producer Pharrell, was killed last year while walking along the city’s boardwalk during an incident that ended in gunfire. At least eight people were wounded and one woman, who was believed to be a bystander, was killed per the Associated Press.
During a press conference, Officer Solomon D. Simmons, who took the fatal shot, and city’s prosecutors, “justified that Simmons protecting himself and others in the moments after Lynch racked a round into his handgun’s chamber and stood — pointing his weapon toward a parking lot filled with multiple people and police.”
Lynch’s father also filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against police Officer Solomon D. Simmons and the city of Virginia Beach for allegedly failing to train its officers. In the lawsuit, Lynch’s family contended that Officer Simons fired without warning and Lynch posed no threat at the time of the shooting. Lynch’s family said he sometimes worked in security and had a gun that he was legally carrying that night per the Washington Post.
Since the incident, Pharrell has been vocal about the death of his cousin and evenpulled his annual Something in the Water Festival from his hometown.
“I love my city, but for far too long it has been run by and with toxic energy,” Williams said in the letter per WAVY. “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.”
Williams added: “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.”
Pharrell has yet to publicly comment on the ruling.