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Donovon Lynch's Family Will File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Photo by Mechelle Hankerson. Donovon Lynch's family, including his father Wayne (center), have called for a federal investigation into the 25-year-old's death.
Photo by Mechelle Hankerson. Donovon Lynch's family, including his father Wayne (center), have called for a federal investigation into the 25-year-old's death.

This story was updated at 12:08 p.m.

The family of Donovon Lynch, a Black man fatally shot by Virginia Beach police, is preparing to file a wrongful death lawsuit. An officer shot and killed the 25-year-old at the Oceanfront in late March.

Stephen Lentz, an attorney for the family, confirmed to WHRO he intends to file the lawsuit, though he declined to discuss it in detail. A Virginia Beach spokeswoman confirmed the city has received notice of the impending suit.       

Lynch’s killing on the night of March 26 spurred anger in the region. A police officer fatally shot Lynch after responding to multiple reports of gunfire at the Oceanfront, but details about the incident are sparse.

Police say Lynch “brandished” a weapon, but the officer had not activated his body camera, making it difficult to understand what happened. Authorities say they searched for, but did not find, any cameras in the area that might have captured the shooting.

Lentz said he plans to file the lawsuit by the end of this month, after the family completes a procedural hurdle.    

The wrongful death lawsuit must be filed on behalf of Lynch’s estate, as opposed to the family, Lentz said. Once Lynch’s father, Wayne, has been appointed to administer the estate, the lawsuit can move forward, according to Lentz.  

Lawyers for the family say Virginia Beach police "acted with a high degree of reckless disregard for the safety, well-being, and life of the public," when they shot Lynch, according to a copy of the notice filed to the city.   

Family members have also called for a federal investigation into Lynch’s killing, one of several recent police killings to garner national headlines. “We want justice for Donovon Lynch, and we will get it,” Wayne Lynch said last month.

“We’re heartbroken, angry.”

Past police shootings have resulted in wrongful death lawsuits in Virginia Beach.   

In 2018, a jury awarded $800,000 to the family of India Kager, a 27-year-old whom police shot and killed in a 7-Eleven parking lot three years earlier.

A man, Angelo Perry, who was in the car with Kager and their child, at the time shot at police. The officers returned fire, killing both Perry and Kager.    

Kager’s family sued four Virginia Beach officers and argued that police acted with gross negligence. Jurors found two of the four to be negligent in her death. 

The family of 57-year-old Jeffrey Tyree has also filed a $15 million wrongful death lawsuit. Tyree’s family members say he was experiencing a mental health crisis when officers shot him in February 2019.

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