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Father of Donovon Lynch calls $3M settlement "vindication" after Virginia Beach police shooting

Photo by Ryan Murphy. Donovon Lynch’s father Wayne Lynch (left) at a press conference in 2021 calling for a federal investigation of his son’s killing.
Photo by Ryan Murphy. Donovon Lynch’s father Wayne Lynch (left) at a press conference in 2021 calling for a federal investigation of his son’s killing.

Virginia Beach says the shooting death of Donovon Lynch "should never have occurred" in a new statement announcing the settlement of his family's wrongful death suit.

The city agreed to pay Lynch's family $3 million.

“We know all over the country it’s been difficult for African American families to recover after being victimized by police brutality, so the message is never give up, always fight for what you believe in, stand up for what you believe in," said Wayne Lynch, the father of Donovon Lynch.

He said the settlement and the city's statement clears his son's name.

The elder Lynch said the money will go to the Donovon Lynch Foundation, a non-profit set up in the wake of Lynch's death to advocate for social justice issues, including police reform.

Lynch, a Black man, was killed by police on a chaotic night at the Oceanfront in March 2021.

Earlier that evening, there had been a fight and separate shooting that left one woman dead and several more injuried.

Lynch and a friend had left an Oceanfront nightclub and were walking down the street when they encountered police. 

The stories of what happened varied. 

The friend told the media that Lynch was legally carrying a gun that never left his pocket.

In court filings, Virginia Beach contended that Lynch had aimed his gun at Officer Solomon Simmons before the officer shot and killed him.

Simmons did not turn on his body camera before the shooting.

The family  called for a federal investigation and filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuitagainst the city in federal court.

A grand jury declined to file charges against the officer who killed Lynch. 

"As we have learned more over time about the facts of that fateful night and encounter, we have come to understand that a series of unfortunate occurrences led to Donovon’s death that night – which in hindsight should never have occurred as it was later determined that neither Donovon nor the officer set in motion the events that transpired," says a joint statement released by the city and Lynch's estate announcing the settlement of the lawsuit.

Virginia Beach native and music superstar Pharrell Williams was Lynch's cousin. Williams evoked Lynch's killing in an open letter to the city decrying Virginia Beach's "toxic energy" when he moved the Something in the Water Festival to Washington, D.C. for a year.

The festival is slated to return to Virginia Beach next spring.

Ryan is WHRO’s business and growth reporter. He joined the newsroom in 2021 after eight years at local newspapers, the Daily Press and Virginian-Pilot. Ryan is a Chesapeake native and still tries to hold his breath every time he drives through the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.

The world changes fast.

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