Attorney: Donovon Lynch’s family plans to file wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Virginia Beach
A Virginia Beach police officer shot and killed Lynch, 25, during a night of violence on the coast on March 26th.
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. – Donovon Lynch’s family plan to file an unlawful death lawsuit against the city of Virginia Beach, according to an implicated attorney and a letter that lawyers representing Lynch’s estate have sent to the city.
A Virginia Beach police officer shot and killed Lynch, 25, during a night of violence on the coast on March 26th. Two people died and several were injured in various shootings.
On April 26, the Anchor Legal Group PLLC informed prosecutor Mark Stiles that the firm had been hired to represent Lynch’s estate in an assault and death claim. State law requires that claims against a county, city or town for negligence must be made within six months of the alleged violation.
“This claim relates to personal injury and death as a direct and immediate result of the actions of the Virginia Beach City Police Department and its agents and / or employees,” read the letter received from 13News Now. “The Virginia Beach Police Officer who shot Donovon and other officers / agents / employees of the Virginia Beach Police Department have acted with a high level of reckless disregard for the safety, wellbeing and life of the public.”
Julie Hill, the city spokeswoman, confirmed the city had received the notice. A separate document shows that a city lawyer responded the next day.
“It’s not over yet, this is just the beginning,” said Wayne Lynch, Donovon’s father, during a press conference on April 12th. “We want justice for Donovon Lynch and we will get it.”
The elder Lynch’s comments came two weeks before the letter was addressed to the city.
Many questions remain about the deadly encounter that night. Police claim there is no video of the shooting because the officer’s body camera was not activated.
The department said Lynch “brandished” a gun. But Lynch’s family has strongly denied this claim because they say there is no evidence to back it up. They also claim Lynch is licensed to carry a gun.
Virginia Beach Police are conducting an independent investigation into the shooting. It is not known when a lawsuit will be filed and what the family will seek in damages.
Stephen Lentz, Attorney at Anchor Legal Group PLLC, has confirmed that he has been hired to represent Donovon Lynch’s estate. He said under Virginia law that only the personal representative of an estate could bring an unlawful death suit on behalf of the deceased.
Lynch did not have a will, however, and in such a case, his father must wait at least 60 days after his death to seek personal representation by a court or clerk under Virginia state law.
That time will have passed on Wednesday May 26th.
Wayne Lynch is expected to file the lawsuit if he authorizes representation of his son’s estate. However, Lentz said the process could take “a few weeks” as it could take time to set up the appointment with the employee.
Lentz represents the property together with attorneys Joshua Coe and Anthony Gantous, who also belong to the Anchor Legal Group. Jeffrey Reichert, Maryland-based Reliance Legal, also represents the family.
The letter informs the city about the representation in the claim, sets up the company as the contact person for the claim and requests copies of all recorded statements relevant to the case within 30 days of receipt. It also calls on the city to obtain and provide evidence of the shooting.
The Virginia Beach Police Department did not name the officer who shot Lynch.
The Virginia State Police are arranging an independent investigation into the matter.
Since the shooting, Virginia Beach Police have made changes to their body camera guidelines. Officers now need to activate them as soon as they receive a service call, not just when they arrive on site.
This officer wore a body camera, but it was not activated. Virginia Beach police chief Paul Neudigate said several officers had body cameras that were not activated when responding to shootings on the coast that night.
Virginia Beach Police are waiting for a manufacturer to repair their gun holsters, which automatically activate body cameras when an officer pulls a gun.