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Wayne Lynch fights to clear his son's name, one year after deadly Virginia Beach police shooting

Wayne Lynch vows to keep fighting for justice one year after his son, Donovon, was shot and killed at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront by a police officer.

Author: Janet Roach

Published: 4:14 PM EDT March 25, 2022

Updated: 5:17 PM EDT March 25, 2022

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — One year later and the pain is still fresh for Wayne Lynch. In some ways, the loss of his son Donovon feels even worse.

Donovon Lynch, 25, was shot and killed by Virginia Beach Police Officer Solomon Simmons on March 26, 2021. The shooting was part of a wild and chaotic night at the Oceanfront where 10 people were shot. The officer's body camera was not turned on during the shooting.

Gunfire sent people scattering to safety as police frantically worked to figure out from where the shots were coming. Last November, a grand jury cleared Simmons of criminal wrongdoing, saying he acted in self-defense. But a $50 million wrongful death federal lawsuit filed by Wayne Lynch against Simmons and the City of Virginia Beach is still pending.

"My son didn't break any laws. Out of all the stuff they've been saying, they haven't said once what law he broke," said Lynch.

Lynch is particularly disappointed with the city's response to a U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia judge's ruling that the lawsuit can move forward.

The lawsuit alleges Simmons and the city violated Donovon's constitutional rights with excessive use of force and that Virginia Beach had failed to properly train its police officers, and that this failure to train partially caused the shooting that killed Donovon Lynch.

The city is denying those claims.

"For them to portray him like he committed a crime and contributed to his death, it's outrageous," Lynch said.

The city alleges Donovon contributed to his own death in its "Answer and Grounds of Defense" filed in federal court this week. It states he entered into an active shooting zone with a gun, placed a bullet in the chamber, and turned toward Officer Simmons.

But the family said Donovon was trying to protect himself as bullets were flying.

"That's his second amendment right. He had a licensed registered firearm for his company, which is a security company. He was trained and registered," Lynch said.

For now, Lynch is renewing his call for an independent federal investigation into the shooting of his son.

The move is supported by several state and local politicians, including Democratic Congressman Bobby Scott. Last December, Scott sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting a federal investigation.

The Lynch family is focused on continuing community work in Donovon's honor through the Donovon Lynch Foundation. The public is invited to a vigil to commemorate the one-year anniversary of his death at 20th Street and Pacific at the Oceanfront on Saturday, March 25, at 7 p.m.

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