‘A true hero’ Newport News Police Chief gives emotional account of deadly incident, remembers fallen officer

Posted at 9:41 AM, Jan 24, 2020

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Newport News Police Chief Drew spoke to the public Friday morning and gave more information aboutan incident that took the life of an officer Thursday night.

Photo courtesy of the Virginia Police Foundation

He also spoke about the fallen officer, Katie Thyne.

According to the department, at 6:47 p.m., Thyne conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle in the 1400 block of 16th Street.

Thyne approached on the driver side and another officer on the passenger side. Chief Drew said the driver door opened and when the driver was asked to get out he accelerated, dragging Thyne for a block.

The vehicle fled the scene and crashed into a tree nearby in the area of 16th Street and Walnut Avenue. Thyne was pinned between the vehicle and the tree, Chief Drew said.

The other officer was able to get out of the way of the accelerating vehicle.

Vernon Green, the alleged driver of the vehicle was arrested after a foot chase and has been charged with Felony Homicide, Evade and Elude, and narcotics charges.

The alleged passenger, Ivy Runnels, has been arrested and has a drug charge.

After giving more details about the incident, Chief Drew tried to hold back tears as he remembered Officer Thyne.

He said she was always smiling, adding, "I don’t know about what, but she was always smiling."

Officer Thyne was in the Navy and was serving in the reserves.

Chief Drew said she had been with the department since 2018 and she leaves behind her mother, brother, stepfather and 2-year-old daughter "who looks just like her." She also leaves behind her loving partner.

He went on to highlight Office Thyne's community involvement, explaining how she coached the Boys and Girls Club basketball team. He said the games scheduled will go on tomorrow in her memory.

“She is and will always be a valued member of this department and part of a tragic event that happened yesterday that will affect this department and community in the future of its existence," Chief Drew said.

More than 50 officers were at the hospital Thursday night supporting Thyne and one another and the Chief said there will be counseling offered for the department, both mandatory and voluntary.

According to the department's "Fallen Officers" page, Thyne is the first woman and 12th person in the department's history to be killed in the line of duty.

On Saturday, January 25, the department will hold a procession to transport Thyne from the Medical Examiner's Office to Altmeyer Funeral Home on River Road. No funeral service has been announced at this time, but plans will be shared when available.

Click here for our full coverage on the death of Newport News Police Officer Katie Thyne.