Wayne Lynch, the father of Donovan Lynch who was shot and killed by a Virginia Beach police officer in 2021, will attend President Joe Biden's State of the Union speech Tuesday night.
Lynch will attend along with other family members of those killed or mistreated by police as part of an effort by the Congressional Black Caucus to highlight the problem of police brutality. He will attend as a guest of Rep. Bobby Scott, a Newport News Democrat.
Others invited to attend include George Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd; Tyre Nichols' parents, Row Vaughn and Rodney Wells; and Eric Garner's mother, Gwen Carr. Floyd died in 2020 after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. His death sparked international outrage and protests. Garner died in 2014 after losing consciousness as a New York City police officer locked him in an illegal chokehold. His dying words, "I can't breathe," became a rallying cry for demonstrators. Nichols died in January, several days after he was stopped and severely by Memphis police officers.
Virginia Beach Police Officer Solomon Simmons shot Lynch while responding to a chaotic night of violence at the Oceanfront in March 2021. One other person was killed and eight others were wounded in two unrelated incidents.
The shooting was ultimately ruled justified and a special grand jury recommended no criminal charges for the officer. However, Virginia Beach and Lynch reached a $3 million settlement in December. The lawsuit alleged the officer shot his son "immediately, unlawfully and without warning" and failed to render aid.
Scott said Nichols' death after being beaten repeatedly by Memphis police officers while in custody has renewed calls for transparency and accountability in policing. The congressman also called for an investigation into Lynch's death, and for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
"Too many questions still remain surrounding Donovon's death and I again call on the Department of Justice to open a federal investigation into his death," Scott said in a statement. "No family should have to experience what Mr. Lynch and so many families across the country have gone through."
Gavin Stone, 757-712-4806, firstname.lastname@example.org