US police shooting raises questions over gun rights of African Americans
African American community leaders in the US state of Virginia called Wednesday for a federal investigation into the fatal police shooting of a Black man.
Carl Wright, an activist and former local NAACP chapter president, said at a news conference that the Black man’s right to carry a gun for protection was ignored during a night of violence earlier this year in the city of Virginia Beach.
“The Second Amendment does not work when it comes to African Americans,” Wright told the Associated Press. “He was a legal gun carrier. And yet his life was taken. There's no justice.”
That concern was among several raised a day after a special grand jury found that a police officer, who is also Black, was justified in fatally shooting Donovon Lynch.
Lynch's family and community leaders also pushed back against what they said were coded words by authorities that painted Lynch as a dangerous Black man.
“He was a great young man," said his father Wayne Lynch, who has filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit. “He did everything he was supposed to do. He didn’t break any laws.”
Lynch, 25, had played football and graduated from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. His father said he carried a gun because he had a security business.
Lynch and a friend had visited the city’s boardwalk area on a warm March night that drew crowds of people. The evening dissolved into chaos after separate outbreaks of gunfire. At least eight people were wounded and one woman, who was believed to be a bystander, was killed.
The city's prosecutors said Tuesday that officer Solomon Simmons encountered Lynch along a line of bushes beside a parking lot. A shooting had just occurred there in which 50 rounds were fired.
Simmons told investigators that he saw Lynch with a gun while crouched in the bushes. Simmons said he heard the distinct sound of a gun being racked to place a bullet in the chamber. He said he saw Lynch begin to rise and thought he would fire into a parking lot filled with people and police.
Simmons said that he said something to Lynch — though he doesn’t remember what — and Lynch began turning around before Simmons fired. A police detective who was nearby said he also saw Lynch and was preparing to fire his gun before Simmons fired his weapon.