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Family of Donovon Lynch says it will push for a federal investigation after special grand jury decision

A jury found no probable cause to charge the Virginia Beach officer who fatally shot Donovon Lynch, which family members called "disappointing but not surprising"

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The family members of Donovon Lynch are renewing their call for a federal investigation of Lynch's death, after a special grand jury convened in Virginia Beach found the police shooting to be "justified."

Lynch family members, friends, community advocates, church members and some local politicians spoke at a news conference Wednesday in response to Tuesday's briefing from investigators. 

Donovon Lynch's father, Wayne Lynch, and sister, Lauren Lynch, said the Virginia State Police investigation and corresponding testimonies show Donovon did nothing wrong or illegal, and he shouldn't have been killed.

“This has been a nightmare, and it continues," said Wayne Lynch.

Family and friends of Donovon Lynch said they now feel the burden to clear Donovon's name.

Lauren Lynch said her brother was never a threat as a legal gun owner holding his gun for protection.

Minutes earlier, about 50 gunshots were fired in the parking lot next to Lynch, according to investigators. 

“We have been more than nice, we have been more than patient, we have sat but why should we," Lauren Lynch said. 

A special grand jury found that VBPD officer Solomon Simmons acted in self-defense of himself and others  when he shot and killed Lynch.

Investigators said no witness or officer testified that Lynch ever pointed his gun at Simmons or any other officer.

Simmons told investigators that Lynch was facing away from him with a gun in his hand, Simmons shouted something at Lynch, Lynch started to turn around, and Simmons fired three shots, hitting Lynch twice.

Lynch was shot in the left leg and left shoulder, according to prosecutors.

“What’s the crime, what is the reason, and be clear Virginia Beach, there is so much of a message you’re sending to your people and it is a terrible one," said Cameron Bertrand, an advocate and Lynch family supporter. "Forget toxic, this is lethal."

Now that the criminal investigation has finished, Virginia Beach Police and Chief Paul Neudigate can begin their administrative review of the videos and evidence.

Neudigate said he couldn’t say if Lynch did anything wrong, or why Officer Simmons didn’t show more restraint.

“It’s hard to say, I have not had the chance to sit down [and watch the videos and witness statements], I think that’s what we allow the process to find out," Chief Neudigate said.

Neudigate said the VBPD internal affairs bureau and firearms discharge board will review the case to see if there were any policy or procedure violations. 

"Really immerse ourselves into what occurred that day, to see if there are lessons to be learned," he told 13News Now. "I think we let the long-term investigation play out and see what those recommendations are."

Wayne Lynch said he’s working for more answers. The Lynch family has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Virginia Beach and Officer Simmons.

"This is not over it’s just begun, I want justice for my son."

At the news conference Wednesday, local leader in the Black community, and former Democratic Senate Candidate Gary McCollum, spoke on the outcome of the investigation, expressing that there are questions that are still left unanswered. 

"What we saw yesterday was a lot of distractions, talking about everything but what happened with Donovon Lynch that night," McCollum said. 

After wiping tears from her eyes, Lynch's sister began to speak through a choked voice. 

"Since March, everything has been tough," she said. "Life does not stop for you, and I learned that." 

The mother of DeShayla Harris, who died after being struck by a bullet in a separate incident that same night, also spoke and offered her continued support for the Lynch family. 

She reminded the community that the person who killed her daughter has yet to be revealed. 

"You don't understand until you are walking in our shoes," Elisheba Harris said. "But to feel like you don't have no one on your side and that your child did nothing wrong is ridiculous... all we want is justice for our children. That's it. Justice. Own up to what you did and it can go away." 

In the aftermath of the news conference, reporter Ali Weatherton reached out to a representative from the Federal Bureau of Investigation unit in Norfolk and received the following response about further action that will be taken to investigate the Lynch case:

"The Norfolk FBI Field Office is aware of the situation regarding the officer-involved shooting of Donovon Lynch and will review all available facts of the incident to determine what federal response is warranted.”

A full timeline of the press conference is below, in a series of tweets from 13News Now reporter Evan Watson. 

You can watch the news conference in its entirety below:

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