A Virginia Beach officer has avoided criminal charges in the fatal shooting of Pharrell’s cousin Donovon Lynch.
Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle announced a special grand jury declined to indict Solomon D. Simmons for Lynch’s death on Tuesday. The grand jury ruled the shooting of Pharrell’s cousin was justifiable self-defense.
“Our decision was based on careful consideration of the evidence, testimony, and the law, including, but not limited to, footage from over 100 hours of body cameras, surveillance videos, photographs, witnesses and forensic evidence,” the grand jury explained in its report. “We find there is no probable cause to believe that Officer Simmons unlawfully shot and killed Mr. Lynch as he acted in justifiable self-defense of himself and others.”
Lynch, a 25-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by Officer Simmons in March.
Simmons, who is also Black, fired multiple shots at Pharrell’s cousin while responding to shootings at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Another person was left dead and eight others were wounded in two unrelated incidents.
“There were numerous people in that parking lot when Officer Simmons saw Mr. Lynch starting to come up with the firearm,” Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle said. “So, it is not only just whether the weapon was pointed at Officer Simmons. It was also – are the people in the parking lot at risk?”
Lynch’s family called for a federal investigation into his death.
“This is not over,” Lynch’s father Wayne said after the grand jury’s ruling. “It’s just begun.”
In October, Pharrell pulled his Something in the Water Festival from Virginia Beach over the city’s handling of his cousin’s death. He criticized “the toxic energy that changed the narrative several times” about Lynch’s homicide in a letter to City Manager Patrick Duhaney.