There Will Be No Charges for the Cop Who Killed Pharrell’s Cousin Donovon Lynch

Donovon Lynch was shot twice and killed by Officer Solomon D. Simmons on March 26, 2020. Lynch’s family is pushing for a federal investigation.

The Virginia Beach police officer who shot and killed Donovon Lynch won’t face criminal charges, a special grand jury announced during a a two-hour presentation on Tuesday. The The special grand jury declared that officer Solomon D. Simmons, the officer who shot and killed Lynch, was justified in acting in self-defense.

It was a decision that left Lynch’s family fuming. On Wednesday (December 1st), the Lynch family held a press conference to talk about the decision. The family isn’t done fighting and have indicated that they will push for a federal investigation. 

“This has been a nightmare, and it continues,” Wayne Lynch, Donovon’s father said. While Donovon’s sister Lauren Lynch  said:

“We have been more than nice, we have been more than patient, we have sat but why should we.”

The case brings up an interesting scenario involving Black gun owners. Simmons arrived to the scene after getting intel about a barrage of gunshots being heard near the city’s oceanfront. Simmons saw Lynch, who was not part of the shooting, heading to his car when the showdown occurred. 

Simmons claims that Lynch was looking away from him while holding on to a gun. Simmons shouted at Lynch, who began to turn around. That’s when Simmons fired, hitting Lynch twice, in the left leg and shoulder. Lynch’s family and supporters are making the argument that Lynch is a legal gun owner who had the right to be armed and that the Simmons should have used restraint.

“What did Donovon Wayne Lynch do that was illegal?” Gary McCollum, a local community leader said, speaking on the family’s behalf. “Why did he have to be shot that evening?”

The shooting, which occurred on March 26, 2020, has garnered a lot of media attention partially because Donovon was the cousin of Pharrell Williams. Days after the shooting, Pharrell posted an emotional dedication to his cousin on his Instagram. (The post has since been deleted). :

“The loss of these lives is a tragedy beyond measure. My cousin Donovon was killed during the shootings. He was a bright light and someone who always showed up for others. It is critical that my family and the other victims’ families get the transparency, honesty and justice they deserve. Virginia Beach is the epitome of hope and tenacity and, as a community, we will get through this and come out even stronger.”

Something in the Water, the Virginia Beach music festival organized by Pharrell, also tweeted condolences to Lynch’s family. (Lynch was a volunteer at the festival.)

“We don’t have the words to fully express how sorry we are about the loss of this beautiful life. We thank you and your family for your light and service. The VA Beach community and beyond will miss you.”

In October, Pharrell announced that he was pulling the plug on Something in the Water. In a letter to Virginia Beach City Manager Patrick Duhaney, the producer said his hometown was “run by – and with – toxic energy.” He goes on to explain how that energy distorted narrative behind the murder of Lynch.

Dimas Sanfiorenzo

Dimas Sanfiorenzo is the Managing Editor for Okayplayer. He specializes in coverage centered around music, pop culture, and politics. Email:

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Dimas Sanfiorenzo

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