Commonwealth’s Attorney Releases Special Grand Jury Report Related to March 26, 2021 Officer-Involved Shooting Death of Donovon Lynch
On March 26, 2021, the City of Virginia Beach experienced three separate shooting events that left DeShayla Harris dead, an officer involved shooting that took the life of Donovon Lynch, and multiple people injured. These were all very tragic events that have left families and our whole community grieving over these losses. In the days following March 26th, the Virginia Beach Police Department turned over the investigation of the officer-involved shooting of Donovon Lynch to the Virginia State Police. Even though the investigation had been taken over by an independent state agency, the Virginia State Police's investigation was repeatedly impeded due to individuals refusing to cooperate and provide information to the investigators. As a result, Commonwealth's Attorney Colin Stolle requested that a Special Grand Jury, which has subpoena power, be impaneled to ensure that these events received a complete and thorough investigation.
A Special Grand Jury consisting of eleven (11) Virginia Beach citizens met in Virginia Beach Circuit Court over the course of several months and heard evidence from numerous witnesses regarding this incident. In addition to the witness testimony, they reviewed multiple documents, reports, maps, audio and video recordings. It should be pointed out that while the officer involved in the shooting of Mr. Lynch did not have his body worn camera activated at the time of the shooting, there were over 100 hours of body worn camera videos from Virginia Beach police officers at the Oceanfront that evening. There is no body worn camera footage that shows the shooting of Mr. Lynch.
At the conclusion of the proceedings, the Special Grand Jury did not find probable cause to charge Officer Solomon Simmons for the shooting of Mr. Lynch as they found Officer Simmons acted in justifiable defense of himself and others. As a result, no criminal charges will be filed against Virginia Beach Police Officer Simmons for the events that resulted in the death of Mr. Lynch.
The Special Grand Jury prepared a report of its findings and filed it with the Court. Such reports are typically sealed under Virginia law unless their release is ordered by the Court. The Court, in this case, determined the Special Grand Jury's report should be released to the public, therefore, the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney has included the report with this statement. The Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney, by statute, may not be present during the deliberations of a Special Grand Jury and therefore cannot answer questions regarding their decision.
Commonwealth's Attorney Stolle and members of his office met with the Lynch family and gave them a copy of the Special Grand Jury's report.
"The Special Grand Jury was meticulous and thorough in their review of this matter that spanned several months," said Commonwealth's Attorney Stolle. "We thank the members of the Special Grand Jury for their service and commend the Virginia State Police for their professional investigation. The death of Donovon Lynch is tragic, and my sympathies are with the Lynch family as they continue to mourn his loss."
The investigation into DeShayla Harris' death is active and ongoing. We ask the public to respect the time needed to continue investigating this horrific crime. Anyone with information on the murder of Ms. Harris should contact the Virginia Beach Police Department.