by Brandon Jarvis

While responding to multiple shooting incidents at the oceanfront Friday night, a Virginia Beach police officer shot and killed Donovan Lynch in the chaos. According to police officials, the latest evidence shows that Lynch was not armed when he was shot. Footage from equipment that is intended to provide visual proof is not available, however, because it does not exist.

The officer involved in the shooting was wearing a body camera, but it was not turned on at the time of the shooting. “The officer was wearing a bodycam, but for unknown reasons at this point in time, it was not activated,” Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate said Saturday night during a press conference.

Now Democratic candidate for attorney general, Del. Jay Jones, is calling on his primary opponent Mark Herring to investigate the recent shooting. The Virginia Beach chapter of NAACP also issued a statement saying there are unanswered questions revolving around that night and continued to call for a Citizen Review Board. 

“The City embarked on the Body-Worn Camera Project of 450 body worn cameras and 250 in-car dash cameras to be distributed to officers as a tool to gather evidence, provide information about police interactions, increase accountability, and strengthen the relationships with the community. In this incident, the department has failed on all accounts,” the Virginia Beach chapter of NAACP said in a statement Sunday night.

Neudigate said that a gun was located “in the vicinity of where this incident occurred,” but there is no evidence to show the gun belonged to Lynch. 

“The Virginia Beach community deserves answers to the horrendous shootings that occurred this weekend,” Del. Jones said Sunday night in a statement. “Body cameras are designed for transparency into police conduct – specifically situations like what happened over the weekend – to provide a clear record of interactions with the public it serves in the field. It is unconscionable that the body camera worn by a police officer involved in a fatal shooting was not activated, and I am calling on the Attorney General to use his full investigative authority to determine what went wrong here. We need far better accountability and transparency, and the families of those killed by police, in Virginia Beach and across this country, deserve answers.”

Herring’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment. He did tweet about the shooting Satuday morning, as the details were still being released. “Today we are all waking up to news of yet another senseless gun violence tragedy,” Herring said in a tweet Saturday. “As we await more info, I want Virginians to know that our work to end gun violence and support our neighbors is never ending.” 

The Virginia Beach NAACP described the entire situation as distressing. “We are faced with unanswered questions and the lost lives of Mr. Donovan W. Lynch and Ms. Deshayla E. Harris,” they said in a statement Sunday night. “After watching the press conference by Chief Paul Neudigate, we are not surprised of the revelation that the body camera of the officer involved in the death of Mr. Lynch was not activated. Disciplinary actions surrounding an officer misconduct should not be withheld from the public under the pretext. ‘It’s a personnel issue.’ This has been the case in the past. Transparency of police discipline is required now.” 

VBPD has not identified the officer involved in the shooting and they have been placed on administrative leave until the investigation is completed.


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