As questions swirled Saturday over the police shooting of a 25-year-old Black man during multiple chaotic shootings in Virginia Beach, city police chief Paul Neudigate admitted to reporters late Saturday that there is no bodycam footage of the confrontation—and police have no idea if the man was armed.
“I don’t have a whole lot of answers,” Neudigate said about the death of Donovan Lynch, which he said was “still very much under investigation.”
Lynch was killed at the hands of police as officers responded to a gunfight they said erupted while they were dealing with another, unrelated shooting nearby. Police said they faced “three separate shooting events” along the city’s oceanfront on Friday night. Three men have been arrested in connection with the first shooting of the night, which left eight people injured and occurred just minutes before the second shooting.
But the circumstances of the second shooting, during which Lynch was killed, remain unclear. Neudigate said only that the incident began as a physical altercation until multiple people drew weapons. One other victim died in the shooting, 29-year-old Desheyla Harris, whom Neudigate described as “an innocent victim struck by stray gunfire.”
Before Lynch was identified by police as the victim of an officer-involved shooting, an initial press release described the man killed as “an armed citizen.” But Neudigate openly admitted late Saturday that authorities do not actually know if Lynch was armed.
Instead, Neudigate could only say that “there was a firearm recovered in the vicinity of where this incident occurred.”
Asked by a reporter if police had evidence of the gun belonging to Lynch, or of Lynch being armed at the time he was shot, Neudigate answered point-blank: “No. At this point, no.”
Neudigate also could not say how many times Lynch was shot. And if anyone was hoping the bodycam footage could clear things up, the police chief said the camera was not on at the time of the fatal shooting.
“There is no bodycam footage. The officer was wearing a body cam, but it was not activated,” he said, adding that the reason for the body camera being turned off would be “part of our investigation.”
“We don’t know what the circumstances were that preceded the shooting. There is an expectation [officers] activate the body camera.”
Investigators had not yet interviewed the officer who shot Lynch, he said.
“I do not have the answers the community is looking for,” the police chief conceded. “I’m not able to stand in front of my community and answer the hard questions.”
Police have arrested three men in connection with the shooting: Ahmon Adams, 22, Nyquez Baker, 18, and Devon Dorsey Jr, 20.
The press conference ended with a protester chanting “No justice, no peace!” The person could be heard calling Lynch’s death “a murder.”