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.
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.