Crime Officer Who Shot and Killed Pharrell Williams' Cousin Cleared of Charges By Grand Jury
Attorneys make closing arguments in Ahmaud Arbery murder trial
Jury hears closing arguments in Ahmaud Arbery murder trial.Arbery was running in the predominantly white Satilla Shores neighborhood of Brunswick on Feb. 23, 2020, when he was pursued by Gregory McMichael, 65, a former police officer, and his son, Travis, 35. Their neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan Jr., 52, helped them to corner Arbery, following him in a pickup as he ran down the road.
A grand jury found Tuesday that a Virginia Beach police officer was justified in shooting and killing Donovan Lynch, in a case that has gained increased attention because Lynch is related to the Grammy-winning musician Pharrell Williams, The Associated Press reported.
Solomon D. Simmons, a Black police officer in Virginia Beach, responded to reports of gunfire at a parking lot on a March night during which several people were injured and at least one woman was killed. Simmons reportedly saw Lynch holding a gun, which Simmons believed he was pointing at the crowd to fire at the people and police officers in the parking lot.
EXPLAINER: What instructions did jury get in Arbery death?
ATLANTA (AP) — Before jurors in the trial of the three men charged in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery retired to the jury room to begin their deliberations, the judge read them specific instructions on the law that's applicable to this case. The jury instructions, also called the jury charge, were carefully put together with input from the lawyers for the defense and prosecution, each side trying to make sure instructions on the parts of the law that support its case were included. The disproportionately white jury began deliberating Tuesday after hearing 10 days of testimony.
Prosecutors said in a press conference Tuesday that Simmons yelled something at Lynch. He then turned toward Simmons and Simmons shot him.
"There were numerous people in that parking lot when Officer Simmons saw Mr. Lynch starting to come up with the firearm," Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney Colin Stolle said. "So it is not only just whether the weapon was pointed at Officer Simmons. It was also — are the people in the parking lot at risk?"
Multiple separate incidents of gunfire occurred near the parking lot and boardwalk before Lynch was shot, which caused Simmons to respond to the scene.
Prosecutors showed footage of the time before and after Lynch was shot during the press conference from body cameras worn by officers at the scene and presented statements from witnesses.
Ahmaud Arbery killing trial: Jury set to begin second day of deliberations
Following more than two weeks of court proceedings and testimony from 23 witnesses, jurors in the Ahmaud Arbery killing trial are set to begin their second day of deliberations Wednesday morning. © Octavio Jones/AP Gregory McMichael, left, is seen Tuesday at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia. The jury reviewed the case for more than six hours Tuesday after the prosecution presented a rebuttal to the defense's closing arguments. Court will resume at 8:30 a.m ET. Three men -- Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael, and neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan Jr.
The grand jury decided Simmons' actions were justified because he was acting to protect himself and others in the area.
For more reporting from The Associated Press, see below.
Lynch's father also filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against Simmons and the city of Virginia Beach for allegedly failing to train its officers.
Simmons never explicitly stated that Lynch pointed the gun directly at him, prosecutors said.
Lynch, 25, of Virginia Beach, was an offensive lineman for the University of Virginia's College at Wise during the 2017 and 2018 seasons and a 2019 graduate of the school.
Lynch and a friend were visiting the city's boardwalk, which is lined with restaurants and hotels, on a warm spring night that drew crowds of people.
Prosecutors also presented a videotaped statement from Simmons, whose body camera had not been turned on during the shooting.
Scott Lang, chief deputy commonwealth's attorney, said Simmons turned off his body camera because he began to drive to a hospital for an investigation involving a separate shooting victim. But then another shooting in which 50 rounds were fired in a parking lot broke out, Lang said.
What's next in Ahmaud Arbery case after guilty verdicts for 3 men
With verdicts handed down in the murder trial of Ahmaud Arbery, here's what's next for the three defendants. On Wednesday, Travis McMichael, who fatally shot Arbery in February 2020, was convicted by a Glynn County, Georgia, jury on all nine charges, including malice murder and four counts of felony murder.
In a videotaped statement, Simmons said he saw Lynch, who "seemed out of place." Simmons said Lynch had a gun and was crouched in the bushes next to the parking lot, where the shooting occurred. Simmons said he heard the distinct sound of a gun being "racked."
"I'm thinking he's going to start shooting into the parking lot," Simmons said.
Simmons said that he said something to Lynch — though he doesn't remember what — and Lynch began turning around before Simmons fired.
Prosecutors also showed a statement from one of the city's detectives who said he also saw Lynch, rising from a crouch with a gun pointed toward the parking lot. The detective said he was preparing to fire his gun before Simmons fired his weapon.
In a lawsuit, Lynch's father, Wayne Lynch, accuses Simmons of shooting his son "immediately, unlawfully and without warning," according to news reports.
Darrion Marsh, a friend of Lynch's who said he witnessed the shooting, told The Virginian-Pilot newspaper earlier this year that Lynch never took the gun out of his cargo shorts.
Lang, the prosecutor, pointed out that police with body cameras arrived at the scene within 25 or 30 seconds. He said the footage did not show Lynch's friend in the immediate area.
'This is how I'm going to die': At January 6 hearing, officers tell of harrowing attacks
U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn said rioters called him a racial epithet as they attacked him and others in an attempt to 'disrupt democracy.'Four law enforcement officers offered gripping accounts Tuesday of the harrowing violence and terrible fear they endured while trying to defend the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, when a mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the building.
Stolle, Virginia Beach's commonwealth's attorney, said he presented the same grand jury information to Lynch's father Tuesday morning.
"They obviously were unhappy with the outcome of the investigation," Stolle said.
Wayne Lynch did not immediately return a voicemail and text message from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Fallout from Lynch's death continues to reverberate in Virginia Beach. The Virginian-Pilot reported that Williams had sent a letter to city officials last month that said he won't bring his Something in the Water music festival back to the oceanfront, partly because of how the city handled the investigation into his cousin's death.
Oxford Copycat Threats Force Dozens of Schools to Close Across the Country .
Schools have been closing across the country since the Oxford High School shooting took place on Tuesday, which killed four people and injured eight more.All public schools in Bay City, Michigan, will be closed on Friday as a result of copycat threats, the school district said on Facebook.