VA Beach To Pay $3 Million In Police Killing Of Pharrell Williams' Cousin

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The city of Virginia Beach has reached a settlement deal with the family of a 25-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by police in March 2021.

According to the Associated Press, Virginia Beach announced Tuesday (December 13) that it will pay $3 million to the family of Donovon Lynch, a cousin of music star Pharrell Williams, settling a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the city and police officer Solomon D. Simmons, who is Black.

The night of Lynch's death began with separate outbreaks of gunfire near Virginia Beach's boardwalk. According to the lawsuit, Lynch was at a nightclub with his friend when a shooting broke out nearby. The two encountered Simmons as they were leaving the club and walking toward their cars.

“Immediately, unlawfully and without warning, officer Simmons fired his police-issued firearm at Mr. Lynch, shooting him twice and killing him,” the lawsuit states.

In November 2021, a special grand jury determined that Simmons was justified in his actions. According to authorities, Lynch pointed a gun toward a parking lot filled with people and police.

A joint statement released on Tuesday said more was learned “about the facts of that fateful night and encounter.”

“(W)e have come to understand that a series of unfortunate occurrences led to Donovon’s death that night — which in hindsight should never have occurred as it was later determined that neither Donovon nor the officer set in motion the events that transpired,” the statement said.

The settlement comes after Williams announced that his music festival, Something in the Water, would return to Virginia Beach. The festival pulled out of Virginia Beach last year, with Williams saying the city had "toxic energy" and that officials should have taken a more proactive stance following the police shooting of Lynch.

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