The fatal shooting of a Black man by a Virginia Beach police officer over the weekend has highlighted a policy difference in how the Democratic candidates for attorney general would handle police reform.
Attorney General Mark Herring, who is seeking a third term, issued a statement Tuesday saying he backs a Virginia State Police investigation into the death of Donovon W. Lynch by a police officer who for unclear reasons had not activated his body camera. Such investigations of police shootings by state police at the request of local law enforcement agencies are routine.
Del. Jay Jones, D-Norfolk, who is challenging Herring in the June 8 primary, said a state police investigation is not enough, and said he would take action as attorney general by using the office’s civil rights division to investigate.
“The AG is well within their rights to come down … and use resources to figure out what happened,” Jones said. Were he attorney general, Jones said, his office would have had people on the ground the next morning investigating.
“What you’re seeing from the AG’s office in this instance has been exactly what they’ve done in the past, which is not enough,” he said. “It’s not rising to this moment. And when you don’t do things differently, you’re going to get the same results. And that has clearly not worked up until this point.”
Herring declined to be interviewed for this story.
An officer shot Lynch, 25, during a night of shootings and mayhem at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Another person was killed and eight were wounded.
Singer Pharrell Williams said Lynch was his cousin. Police Chief Paul Neudigate has said the shooting deserves more transparency.
“This is the first time that I’ve encountered a situation where we’ve had no body-worn camera footage,” he said.
This story includes information from The Associated Press