Pharrell’s gun-licensed, security company owning cousin was killed by a Virginia Beach cop whose bodycam the police chief says was turned off

Virginia Beach city council held a special meeting to discuss a police shooting that resulted in two lives being lost and a call for a civilian review board by the NAACP

CLEVELAND, OH – Virginia Beach city council and the city’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter are seeking answers for why a police officer with his bodycam turned off shot singer Pharrell Williams’ cousin through marriage to death on March 26, 2021.  Virginia Beach city council scheduled a special meeting for March 30, 2021 to discuss the drama that dragged their city into the national “police killing” spotlight.

Two people were killed at Virginia Beach’s Oceanfront on March 26, 2021.  Eight were injured.

The dead are Donovan Lynch and reality star Deshayla E. Harris, 29, of Norfolk.  She appeared on the “Bad Girls Club” and went by the pseudonym “Firecracker Fashionista” on the Oxygen network show.  Lynch is Pharrell’s cousin through marriage.  The popular recording artist is from Virginia Beach.

Lynch was shot to death by an unnamed Virginia Beach police officer.  Harris was shot to death by a stray bullet.  Lynch’s shooting is drawing controversy because police mischaracterized his presence at the crime scene to justify the shooting.

According to the Virginia Beach police department he was “brandishing” a handgun in a “threatening” manner.  According to a witness police are lying.  Lynch’s weapon was not in his hand.  It’s the same conceal-minded thinking Scott Gardner exhibited when he told the media words Larry McDonald did not use when he turned off his bodycam and shot Vincent Belmonte in the back of the head in East Cleveland, Ohio.

Lynch’s father, Wayne Lynch, told Virginia Beach’s WAVY NEWS that his son owned a security company and he was licensed and permitted to carry his 9mm Rutger concealed.  No evidence has been presented that Donovan Lynch was involved in the shootings that injured 8 bystanders and killed Deshayla Harris.  Police have not even said his weapon was discharged.

What’s interesting to this writer from a Cleveland perspective is in seeing the Virginia Beach NAACP calling for a “civilian review board” similar to one that’s existed in Cleveland since the 1980’s that doesn’t give citizens the desired “police accountability” results.  Like in Ohio the Virginia Beach chief of police, Paul Neudigate, has deflected the deadly force investigation to Virginia’s “state police.”  Below are NAACP President Karen Hills-Pruden’s thoughts on the police shooting.

The Virginia Beach NAACP Branch was pleased to hear during today’s City Council Special Session that the investigation into the shooting death of Mr. Donovan Lynch will be handled by the Virginia State Police. This branch was not pleased with the previous statement by Chief Neudigate stating that a gun was found in the vicinity of the incident. His failure to also state that Mr. Lynch was a legally licensed gun owner was an attempt to shift the perception of the public’s view toward Mr. Lynch. The police department has access to gun permit/licensure information, so the Virginia Beach Branch NAACP has no reason to believe the intent was other than malicious. This is one of the reasons an external agency was requested by the branch.

Furthermore, Chief Neudigate complaints of understaffing, equipment preferences, and equipment on back order is nothing new. The police force has been understaffed for years. However, the Virginia Beach Branch NAACP will not allow our focus to be watered down by those organizational objectives.

Our inquiry is two-fold . Why was Mr. Donovan Lynch shot on March 26, 2021? And why did the police officer who shot Mr. Donovan Lynch not activate his Body-Worn Camera?

Virginia’s “general assembly” is called a “house of delegates.”  Its “state senators” and “state representatives” are called “delegates.” Delegate Jay Jones of Norfolk called for a Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring to conduct an independent investigation into the shooting.  Herring agreed with his opponent in the June 2021 primary election primary election and ordered one.

DeShayla Harris, 29, was an innocent Oceanfront bystander when she was shot to death on March 26, 2021.

Below is Jones’ statement.  He wants in part an end to qualified and sovereign immunity for law enforcement officers.

“The Virginia Beach community deserves answers to the horrendous shootings that occurred this weekend. Body cameras are designed for transparency into police conduct – specifically situations like what happened over the weekend – to provide a clear record of interactions with the public it serves in the field.

“It is unconscionable that the body camera worn by a police officer involved in a fatal shooting was not activated, and I am calling on the Attorney General to use his full investigative authority to determine what went wrong here. We need far better accountability and transparency, and the families of those killed by police, in Virginia Beach and across this country, deserve answers.

“Despite the shooting taking place on Friday, the officer has yet to be interviewed by the Virginia Beach Police Department. This is further evidence for why we must reform our law enforcement practices, including ending qualified and sovereign immunity, but also demand more transparency and hold law enforcement to appropriate standards.

“No one is above the law, including those tasked with enforcing it. Although the Civil Rights Division I proposed this past session would have had investigative and enforcement authority over a situation just like this, it was killed for politically motivated reasons by supporters of Mark Herring in the legislature.

“Nevertheless, I trust that the Attorney General will investigate this matter and use the office to make police reform a much larger priority than it has been for him during his time in office. I pray that he won’t play politics with justice and the lives of our citizens. Now is the time to put the full weight of the office behind your new rhetoric.”

Despite the direction the politicians are taking the discussion about his son’s death in, Wayne Lynch wants answers and justice.  He wants his son’s named cleared of the smear Virginia Beach cops attempted.

Singer Pharrell Williams shared his thoughts on Instagram about his cousin being shot to death by a Virginia Beach cop on March 26, 2021.

Eric Jonathan Brewer

Cleveland's most influential journalist and East Cleveland's most successful mayor is an East Saint Louis, Illinois native whose father led the city's petition drive in 1969 to elect the first black mayor in 1971. Eric is an old-school investigative reporter whose 40-year body of editorial work has been demonstrably effective. No local journalist is feared or respected more.

Trained in newspaper publishing by the legendary Call & Post Publisher William Otis Walker in 1978 when it was the nation's 5th largest Black-owned publication, Eric has published and edited 13 local, regional and statewide publications across Ohio. Adding to his publishing and reporting resume is Eric's career in government. Eric served as the city's highest paid part-time Special Assistant to ex-Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White. He served as Chief of Staff to ex-East Cleveland Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor; and Chief of Communications to the late George James in his capacity as the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority's first Black executive director. Eric was appointed to serve as a member of the state's Financial Planning & Supervision Commission to guide the East Cleveland school district out of fiscal emergency and $20 million deficit. Former U.S. HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson told Eric in his D.C. office he was the only mayor in the nation simultaneously-managing a municipal block grant program. Eric wrote the city's $2.2 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant application. A HUD Inspector General audit of his management of the block grant program resulted in "zero" audit findings.

As a newspaper publisher, Eric has used his insider's detailed knowledge of government and his publications to lead the FBI and state prosecutors to investigations that resulted in criminal prosecutions of well-known elected officials in Ohio; and have helped realign Cleveland's political landscape with the defeat of candidates and issues he's exposed. Eric's stories led to the indictments of the late Governor George Voinovich's brother, Paul Voinovich of the V Group, and four associates. He asked the FBI to investigate the mayor he'd served as chief of staff for public corruption; and testified in three federal trials for the prosecution. He forced former Cuyahoga County Coroner Dr. Elizabeth Balraj to admit her investigations of police killings were fraudulent; and to issue notices to local police that her investigators would control police killing investigations. Eric's current work has resulted in Cuyahoga County Judge John Russo accepting the criminal complaint he guided an activist to file against 24 civil rights-violating police officers in the city he once led for operating without valid peace officer credentials. USA Today reporters picked up on Eric's police credentials reporting from his social media page and made it national.

Eric is the author of of his first book, "Fight Police License Plate Spying," which examines the FBI and local police misuse of the National Crime Information Center criminal records history database. An accomplished trumpet player and singer whose friendship with Duke Fakir of the Four Tops resulted in his singing the show's closing song, "Can't Help Myself": Curtis Sliwa of New York's Guardian Angels counts Eric among his founding chapter leaders from the early 1980's role as an Ohio organizer of over 300 volunteer crime fighters in Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown, Ohio. For his work as a young man Eric was recognized by Cleveland's Urban League as it's 1983 Young Man of the Year.

Known in Cleveland for his encyclopedic knowledge of government and history, and intimately-connected with the region's players, every local major media outlet in Cleveland has picked up on one of Eric's stories since 1979. There is no mainstream newspaper, television or radio outlet in Cleveland that does not include an interview with Eric Jonathan Brewer in its archives over the past 40 years.

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