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Office of Attorney General supports 'independent' look at Virginia Beach Oceanfront shootings

Questions continue over the un-activated body camera after an officer shot and killed Donovon Lynch.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Office of Attorney General Mark Herring released in a statement to 13News Now that it's "encouraging" the Virginia Beach Police Department to consider the involvement of an unaffiliated law enforcement agency in its investigation of last week's deadly oceanfront violence.

Two are dead, and more were hospitalized after Virginia Beach Police responded to reports of gunfire near the Oceanfront. Donovon Lynch, 25, was shot and killed by a VBPD officer near the scene of the originally reported gunfire, while 29-year-old Deshayla Harris was killed by what investigators say was a stray bullet.

Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate said that the officer who shot Lynch had not activated their body camera at the scene for "unknown" reasons.

The entire statement reads as follows:

Attorney General Herring has long called for independent investigations of officer-involved shootings, and we encourage the Virginia Beach Police Department to consider referring the matter to an unaffiliated law enforcement agency so the public can have the most confidence in the independence and objectivity of the investigation. He has also called for the mandatory use of body cameras and the department needs to explain as soon as possible why this officer’s camera did not capture the incident. We will continue to closely monitor developments as the investigation continues, and join the Virginia Beach NAACP in calling for all involved to be as honest, transparent, and forthcoming as possible so the community and affected families can understand what exactly happened on Friday night.

The ACLU and NAACP have both called for transparent action following the night of violence that has reached the national spotlight. 

“I don’t want to say surprising, but disappointing the body camera was not turned on. We pass laws for that purpose. Officers will have the equipment to be transparent and so that we have a record of what’s happening, it’s distressing," Norfolk Delegate Jay Jones told 13News Now on Monday.

On Sunday night, Jones publicly called on the Office of Attorney General Mark Herring to conduct an investigation into the oceanfront shootings. Jones is vying to unseat Herring for the seat of the Attorney General. 

“Was procedure followed, do we have the proper procedures in place, and what happened? It’s a Friday night at the Oceanfront, a lot of people, but a lot of questions. We want people to know what happened, what went down, were procedures followed, was force necessary," Jones said. 

While the statement mentions support for an "independent" investigation, it also does not say that the Office itself would be involved in any formal investigation on the matter.

In the latest press release Monday afternoon, VBPD said two officers and an independent witness confirmed that Lynch had been in possession of a handgun recovered near the vicinity of the scene the night of March 26, 2021.

RELATED: Virginia Beach Police Department: Officers, witness say man shot, killed by police had gun

VBPD says once its investigation is complete, its statements and evidence will be submitted to the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney (OCA).

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