Cop Who Shot Donovan Lynch Acted in Self Defense

by Kerry Dougherty

On a balmy spring Friday night last March — the 26th to be exact — the Virginia Beach resort strip was packed with young people as an orgy of violence exploded. By the time the gunfire stopped and the crowds were dispersed, 10 people had been shot. Two were dead. And scores of gun casings were retrieved from the area around 19th Street.

A brief special grand jury report, released to the public yesterday, described the scene as one of “chaos” and a “war zone.”

The jurors concluded that a police officer who shot and killed Donovan Lynch during the melee acted in self-defense.

Cue the anti-cop outrage.

The Lynch shooting became front-page news in part because the victim was the cousin of rap star Pharrell Williams, who recently yanked his Something In The Water music festival from the Beach saying there was a “toxic” energy in the city due to the handling of his cousin’s death.

Lynch was a 25-year-old African American. Naturally, there were initial accusations of racism, heavily seasoned with anti-police rhetoric.

We were the first news outlet to report that the officer who shot Donovan Lynch was also black. And just like that, the story went from white officer shoots unarmed black man to African-American officer shoots armed black man.

The officer’s name is Solomon Simmons.

In the days and weeks after Lynch’s death an orchestrated public relations campaign painted a narrative of an innocent man shot dead by out-of-control cops. In a story headlined “It Took The Killing Of Pharrell’s Cousins to Rein In These Cops,” The Daily Beast invoked the George Floyd case, misspelled Donovan Lynch’s name repeatedly and pointed to the city’s new citizens review board as proof that Beach cops were a rogue bunch.

The special grand jury that was impaneled in August, however, found that the shooting was justified. They noted that Lynch’s handgun was next to his body — and not in his pocket as had been alleged — behind a hedge where he died. They found that other elements of the stories that swirled around the shooting that night also appear to be fabricated.

The jurors found that Simmons acted appropriately when he heard Lynch rack his gun and should not be charged with a crime.

You can read the three-page special grand jury report here. This is an excerpt:

“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. 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.”

The report indicates that the jurors chased down scurrilous rumors about Simmons, including that he had been drinking on the job and found them not credible.

This is another jury — like the ones in Kenosha and in Brunswick, Georgia — that took its responsibility seriously and didn’t allow pressure from powerful people to contaminate its judgment.

In a somewhat startling move, the grand jury recommended an investigation into attorney Jeff Reichart, who represents the Lynch family, “including, but not limited to perjury.”


That’s serious, folks.

After the release of the report, the Beach City Manager Patrick Duhaney issued a press release expressing remorse over the death of Lynch and saying that the next step is an “administrative investigation” to determine if Simmons violated any police department policies. Until that is concluded, early in 2022, Simmons remains on “administrative assignment.”

This column has been republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.

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19 responses to “Cop Who Shot Donovan Lynch Acted in Self Defense”

  1. Speaking of how the media spins stories to fit their narrative, here’s the Washington Post story headline for the Donovan Lynch story: “Virginia Beach police officer won’t face charges in killing of Black man.”

    1. VaNavVet Avatar

      Did you want it to say Black Virginia Beach police officer? Yes a Black man was killed and the officer won’t face charges because it was ruled to be justifiable.

      1. Matt Adams Avatar
        Matt Adams

        “How about Virginia Beach Police Officer won’t face charges in fatal shooting.”

        The invocation of race is for nothing but stirring up tensions and generating hate.

        Race is not germane to this homicide, just like it wasn’t in Kenosha.

        1. If race is relevant then it must be stated on both sides of the equation….armed criminal and cop

          1. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            But it’s not relevant here. It had no baring on the circumstances around the individuals death. It’s used to gin up the base, nothing more.

          2. VaNavVet Avatar

            This incident has been portrayed as being about race from the onset. I believe that all ten of the shooting victims were black and that three witnesses did refuse to cooperate with the police which they stated that they did not trust. As noted, there is history of tension between the police and minority communities in the city.

  2. VaNavVet Avatar

    Not sure that Pharrell isn’t right about the “toxic” energy in Virginia Beach although not necessarily connected with the handling of his cousin’s death. There is a long, documented history of racial tension in the city.

  3. What the heck is a “gun casing”?

  4. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    The most telling element of the summary from the grand jury is the statement that the location, that particular parking lot on that night, was too dangerous a place for EMS personnel to render medical attention to the person shot. He was moved to another location before a medical professional took a stab at saving his life. That part of the oceanfront had clearly become a combat zone. The officer had reason to act first if he heard a weapon being prepared for firing. We cannot ask them to wait to be fired upon first. As with the Kenosha trial and the Georgia trial, a decision rendered by a jury holds the greatest weight.

    1. VaNavVet Avatar

      A great deal of the outcome of these trials appears to depend upon the laws of that particular state perhaps as opposed to common sense. So what should the Virginia Beach police and city officials do to curb gun violence at the oceanfront so that the public can feel safe during the evening hours?

      1. James Kiser Avatar
        James Kiser

        well they could try putting troublemakers in jail and rapidly executing those convicted of murder. That might help

        1. John Harvie Avatar
          John Harvie

          First post on this thread that says it all!

          1. James Kiser Avatar
            James Kiser


        2. VaNavVet Avatar

          I don’t think that state governments will be rushing to bring back the death penalty. It has been judged to be “cruel and unusual” punishment and state officials are not interested in taking a human life. Too often it was found that the “white” majority was very quick to call for the death of minority folks.

      2. Matt Adams Avatar
        Matt Adams

        Just spit balling here, but they could apply the current laws on the books in regards to gun crime. You know the mandatory minimum of 5 years for having a firearm, 7 for brandishing or 10 for having an SBR, sawed off shotgun or semiauto firearm while in the commission of a crime.

        1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
          Dick Hall-Sizemore

          You seem to be implying that those laws are not being applied now. Do you have any evidence that is so?

          1. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            “Dick Hall-Sizemore Matt Adams • a minute ago
            You seem to be implying that those laws are not being applied now. Do you have any evidence that is so?”


            Those are Federal Standards I stated, just for your edification.

            Also, you’re engaging in your standard argument from ignorance.

          2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
            Dick Hall-Sizemore

            I assumed that you were commenting on prosecutors’ practices in Virginia. Based on the source cited, however, you are concerned about Baltimore.

          3. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            Umm the citation was about ignoring federal gun crime laws. Considering you’re only about partisan politics for an admin you worked for, your opinion on the matter is moot. Furthermore, how about you provide evidence that it’s not being ignored. Start with the VA Beach arrest that occured in September of this year.

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