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Felon Accused Of Murdering Officer Katie Thyne Files Excessive Force Lawsuit Over Incident

Newport News, VA – The convicted felon accused of dragging a Newport News police officer to her death in 2020 has filed a $1.1 million lawsuit against the police chief alleging the officer he killed used excessive force against him because she was not properly trained.

Vernon Green filed the 10-page, handwritten lawsuit against Newport News Police Department (NNPD) Chief Steve Drew from inside the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth on Jan. 20, WAVY reported.

Green is currently facing a felony homicide charge for the Jan. 23, 2020 death of 24-year-old NNPD Officer Katie Thyne.

The fatal encounter began in the 1400-block of 16th Street at approximately 6:47 p.m., WAVY reported.

Officer Thyne and a second Newport News police officer responded to the area due to a report of drug activity, Chief Drew said during a press conference the following day.

After removing a passenger from the suspect vehicle, the officers turned their attention to the driver, who was later identified as Green, WAVY reported.

Officer Thyne was standing inside the open driver’s side door when Green suddenly stomped on the accelerator, Chief Drew said.

The officer was unable to back away from the car in time, and was dragged for approximately one block before the vehicle slammed into a tree, pinning her.

“She was in between that door and that tree,” Chief Drew explained.

Green attempted to flee the scene on foot, but was apprehended after a brief chase.

Officer Thyne was rushed to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries.

Chief Drew said that there is bodycam footage of the fatal incident, and described it as being “very clear,” WAVY reported.

Green claimed in his lawsuit that Officer Thyne used excessive force against him by choking him, and argued he did not pose an imminent threat to her or the community when she took that action, according to WAVY.

He declared Chief Drew is responsible for the alleged use of excessive force because he should have provided proper training for Officer Thyne, who he claimed failed to follow the agency’s use-of-force procedures.

Green said Officer Thyne didn’t activate the emergency lights of her patrol vehicle when she stopped him, and claimed she failed to identify herself when she approached him, WTKR reported.

According to the lawsuit, he drove off after police refused to provide him with an explanation as to why they wanted him to step out of his vehicle.

He claimed that as he started to accelerate, Officer Thyne jumped through his driver’s side door and choked him, WTKR reported.

After news of the lawsuit broke, the fallen officer’s aunt told WTKR she has viewed bodycam footage of the incident and that Green’s account of what occurred is entirely false.

Tim Thyne, Officer Thyne’s brother, said the only person who needs to be held accountable is Green.

“He made the decision to do what he did and flee the scene, and the result of his action killed my sister,” Tim Thyne told WTKR. “He made that decision, and it’s a very clear outcome of the decision he made. He should be held accountable for that.”

Chief Drew made a nearly-identical statement during a recent press conference.

“If Mr. Green had not driven away and committed the act that he did, Officer Thyne would be alive today,” he said, according to WTKR.

Green was sentenced federally in April of 2021 on charges of illegal drug possession and felony drug possession in connection with the traffic stop, WAVY reported.

His three-day jury trial for felony homicide and failure to render aid after a hit-and-run is scheduled to begin on Nov. 15.

According to court documents, Green was already on probation for gun and cocaine charges when he barged into the Select Bank & Trust and forced employees to hand over $10,361 in cash on May 18, 2016, the Daily Press reported.

He then took off in a black 2004 Mercedes Benz, which investigators later traced back to him.

About four hours after the robbery, he called Newport News police and claimed that someone had stolen his vehicle from a local parking lot.

The car was recovered at an automotive shop in New Kent County eight days later, the Daily Press reported.

Nearly two years after the bank robbery, Elizabeth City police and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents apprehended Green outside the Newport News Probation and Parole office in connection with the heist.

He was subsequently extradited to North Carolina, where he was released on a $250,000 bond on the state charge.

The case languished in state court throughout 2019 while attorneys hashed out a potential plea agreement, the Daily Press reported.

By early September, federal prosecutors were considering filing charges against him. They backed out of that idea later the same month for unknown reasons.

Had they opted to prosecute him, he likely would have been sitting in jail until his federal trial, and he would never have crossed paths with Officer Thyne.

“Their decision to decline prosecution in this case was very disappointing,” District Attorney Andrew Womble told the Daily Press in 2020.

Chief Drew had to pause to regain his composure as Officer Thyne’s photo was projected onto the large screen beside him during the emotional press conference shortly after her death.

“If you ever saw her, all she did was smile. You almost started to laugh because she was always smiling,” Chief Drew told reporters.

Officer Thyne, a New Hampshire native who was both a U.S. Navy veteran and reservist, joined the NNPD in 2018.

She was assigned to the South Precinct’s evening shift, Chief Drew said.

He recalled having spoken with Officer Thyne when she first joined the force.

“This is what she wanted to do,” the chief recalled. “She wanted to be in law enforcement, and she wanted to do it in this city.”

Officer Thyne was also very active in community events, and was an assistant basketball coach at the local Boys and Girls Club.

“She is, and will always be, a valued member of the department,” Chief Drew said. “Katie was a true hero.”

Officer Thyne leaves behind her partner and her daughter, who was just two years old at the time of her death.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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