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Man accused of killing Newport News officer in 2020 sues NNPD police chief

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Posted at 3:08 PM, Jan 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-28 11:31:34-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Officer Katie Thyne, a Navy veteran and mother to a young toddler, had only been with the Newport News Police Department for a little more than a year when she died in the line of duty.

The 24-year-old was dragged and pinned against a tree during a 2020 traffic stop that turned deadly.

Vernon Green, the man driving the car Katie Thyne was killed by, faces felony murder charges on top of federal drug and gun charges. Now, Green has filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew.

In a 10-page handwritten civil lawsuit filed from inside the Hampton Roads Regional Jail, Green is asking for $1.1 million in damages against Drew, as he believes excessive force was used against him during the traffic stop.

"It has been two years now without Katie. It doesn’t get any easier for any of us," said Tim Thyne, Katie's brother.

On January 23, 2020, Tim Thyne lost his little sister, a rookie cop with the NNPD.

"It was one of the worst moments of my life," Tim Thyne said.

On that night, Katie Thyne stopped a car at a park after reports of drug activity. Katie Thyne and her partner approached the car, removing the passenger, Ivy Runnels, and also asking the driver, Vernon Green, to come out. That's when police say the driver accelerated.

Drew says Katie Thyne was dragged outside the vehicle for about a block before the car came to a rest and smashed a tree. Katie Thyne was pinned between the tree and the car.

Green ran away from the scene before he was arrested. Now Green is telling his side of the story.

"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. He also alleges that Katie Thyne jumped inside the driver's side door, grabbing him and choking him by the neck as he left the parking lot.

Green alleges that was excessive force, and he posed no immediate threat. He also alleges that Drew is responsible for the lack of officer training.

Drew made a statement to News 3's Anthony Sabella during a Friday press conference, saying, "If Mr. Green had not driven away and committed the act that he did, Officer Thyne would be alive today."

WTKR also spoke to Katie Thyne's aunt Thursday, who was in federal court for the drug and gun charges against Green. She tells News 3 the body camera footage she saw that day shows none of what Green is alleging.

Green is due back in court for the murder charges against Katie Thyne in November.