The Washington Post Sunday

Grand jury calls attorney to testify in police killing

- BY JUSTIN JOUVENAL justin.jouvenal@washpost.com

A special grand jury that appears to be investigat­ing the controvers­ial shooting of a Black man by Virginia Beach police in March has taken the unusual step of calling an attorney for the man’s family to testify, according to a subpoena.

Jeffrey Reichert was summoned to appear before the special grand jury on Sept. 15, a move that another attorney representi­ng the family of Donovon Lynch decried as an attempt to pry into what the family knows about the case, what it has learned from witnesses and its legal strategy.

Alex Spiro is representi­ng the Lynch family in a civil suit filed against the city of Virginia Beach and the officer who shot Lynch.

“The attempt to subpoena the decedent’s family lawyer is the same type of intimidati­on tactic that has been used for many years,” Spiro said. “It’s the type of tactic [that], rather than getting at truth and respecting the process, leads to further divisions between police and people they are sworn to protect.”

The subpoena is also the first evidence that a special grand jury has been empaneled to look into the killing of Lynch, 25, who authoritie­s said was shot March 26 by a Virginia Beach police officer during a chaotic night of violence on the city’s beachfront strip of bars and restaurant­s.

Virginia Beach police have previously said two officers told them Lynch was brandishin­g a gun at the time of the shooting, but a friend of Lynch who was with him that night told The Washington Post he did not see Lynch pull out a weapon.

It’s not clear what the special grand jury will ask Reichert, but the subpoena asked him to bring evidence related to the case that Reichert claimed during a news conference was “valuable” and that he found at the scene in the days after the shooting.

Reichert did not say during the news conference what the evidence was that he claimed to have found. He declined Friday to comment on the subpoena.

Former Fairfax County prosecutor Casey Lingan said he could not recall ever calling an attorney to testify in a case under similar circumstan­ces or hearing of a grand jury doing the same. He said prosecutor­s are reluctant to call attorneys because it can pierce attorney-client privilege.

“You always want to be very cautious with that because you want to ensure someone’s right to counsel,” Lingan said. “It’s a hallmark of our criminal justice that what clients say to their attorney is private.”

The Office of the Commonweal­th’s Attorney for Virginia Beach issued the subpoena but declined to comment on it. Spiro said he knew of two witnesses to Lynch’s shooting who had been called to testify before the special grand jury.

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