A Virginia Beach prosecutor has announced that no charges will be filed against the police officer who fatally shot Donovan Lynch, the cousin of singer Pharrell Williams. Lynch, 25, was killed after Officer Solomon D. Simmons III discharged his firearm three times on the night of March 26 this year. On Tuesday, Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle said a special grand jury had found “no probable cause” to charge Simmons in Lynch’s death. The grand jury found Simmons had acted in “justifiable self-defense of himself and others,” according to Stolle.
Authorities allege Lynch pulled out a weapon that night, but Simmons did not have his body camera turned on “for unknown reasons,” according to Chief Paul Neudigate. A witness recalled hearing Simmons yell that Lynch was armed. In other officers’ body camera footage, Simmons could be heard after the confrontation saying, “I shot him.”
Lynch’s father filed a lawsuit against Simmons and the City of Virginia Beach in June, demanding a jury trial and $50 million in damages. In his filing, Wayne Lynch claimed that Simmons’ shooting was unlawful and without warning. Pharrell Williams canceled his highly-anticipated Virginia Beach festival in October, penning a letter to officials decrying his cousin’s death and his hometown’s “toxic energy.”