HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – Vernon Green II is accused of killing a Virginia police officer in 2020. He’s been in custody since the homicide occurred. Now he’s suing the chief of the Newport News Police Department for excessive force and lack of training.
Officer Katie Thyne was a Navy veteran and mother to a young toddler. Her time with the Newport News Police Department was brief, a little more than a year, when she was killed in the line of duty, WTKR reported.
Katie Thyne, 24 at the time of her death, was dragged and pinned against a tree during a 2020 investigation that turned deadly.
Shortly after Officer Thyne’s death on January 23, 2020, Chief Steve Drew provided additional details on what unfolded on 16th Street in their city, Law Officer reported at the time.
He said there was a report of drug activity in that area, near Monitor-Merrimac Overlook Park. Two officers, including Officer Thyne, responded around 6:45 p.m.
They arrived separately. The officers approached a vehicle because of a strong odor of drugs and removed the passenger. Once the passenger was out of the vehicle, he said both officers went to address the driver.
Suddenly, Chief Drew said the driver accelerated away while the passenger door remained open. As a result, Officer Thyne was unable to get out of the way. Consequently, she was dragged for about a block. The driver crashed into a tree a short distance away, pinning her.
The officer was transported to Sentara Norfolk General. However, she quickly succumbed to her injuries.
The driver ran from the scene after the crash, but was apprehended after a short foot pursuit. Chief Drew identified the driver as Vernon Green II. At the time of his arrest, police said he was was facing charges of felony homicide, felony evade and elude and possession of narcotics. He is reportedly facing federal narcotic and gun charges as well, according to WTKR.
Ivy Runnels, the front seat passenger in the vehicle with Green, was arrested on a drug charge.
Chief Drew was emotional as he talked about moving forward from the tragedy. He thanked the department chaplains who responded to the hospital where Officer Thyne was taken.
“There is a lot of healing that needs to take place. There is no timetable for that,” said Chief Drew in 2020.
He continued to reflect on her warm personality and cheerful disposition.
“If you ever saw her, all she did was smile. You almost started to laugh because she was always smiling,” the chief said at the time.
Officer Thyne was still serving as a Navy reservist at the time of her death, Law Officer reported.
“Our hearts go out to the family, friends, and shipmates of Katherine Thyne,” the Commander of Navy Reserve Forces Command said in 2020. “A logistics specialist in the United States Navy Reserve, she was assigned to Navy Operational Support Center Norfolk. As a Sailor who served her country in more ways than one, we are deeply saddened by her loss.”
Now, Green has filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against the Newport News police chief, WTKR reported.
In a 10-page handwritten civil lawsuit filed from inside the Hampton Roads Regional Jail, Green is seeking $1.1 million in damages against Drew, as he believes excessive force was used against him during the detention.
“It has been two years now without Katie. It doesn’t get any easier for any of us,” said Tim Thyne, Katie’s brother.
“It was one of the worst moments of my life,” he said.
“He made the decision to do what he did and flee the scene, and the result of his action killed my sister. He made that decision, and it’s a very clear outcome of the decision he made. He should be held accountable for that,” Tim Thyne said.
In the lawsuit, Green alleges Katie Thyne never put her emergency lights on and did not identify herself when approaching Green.
Green says in the lawsuit he wanted an explanation of why he needed to get out of the car. He states he refused to get out, but says officers continued, so he put the car in gear and drove forward, according to WTKR.
Green alleges that was excessive force, and he posed no immediate threat. He also claims that Chief Drew is responsible due to the lack of officer training.
A reporter for WTKR spoke to Katie Thyne’s aunt Thursday, who was in federal court for the drug and gun charges against Green. She said the body camera footage she saw that day shows none of what Green is alleging.
Green’s next appearance in court for the murder charges against Katie Thyne will be in November.