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“It’s OK to cry”: Virginia police chief says officer killed in line of duty was a hero

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Katie Thyne
Katie Thyne

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Speaking through tears, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew identified the officer who died in the line of duty Thursday night as Officer Katie Thyne, WAVY reports.

Chief Drew provided new information about the investigation and Officer Thyne during a Friday morning news conference.

He said Officer Thyne joined the Newport News Police Department in 2018 and was assigned to the South Precinct. She leaves behind her mother and stepfather, a brother, her two-year-old daughter and a loving partner. She was 24 years old.

Before joining the police force, Thyne served in the Navy. She enlisted in 2013 and was currently a Reservist.

The Commander of Navy Reserve Forces Command told, “Our hearts go out to the family, friends, and shipmates of Katherine Thyne. 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.”

Chief Drew was emotional as he talked about moving forward from this tragedy. He thanked the department chaplains who responded to the hospital where Officer Thyne was taken Thursday night.

“There is a lot of healing that needs to take place. There is no timetable for that,” said Chief Drew.

Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew holds a news conference to provide details about a deadly traffic stop Thursday night. Officer Katie Thyne died in the line of duty.
Drew provided additional details on what unfolded on 16th Street. 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. They approached a vehicle because of a strong odor of drugs and removed the passenger. Then, he said both officers went to address the driver. While the driver’s side door was open, Chief Drew said the driver accelerated. Officer Thyne was unable to get out of the way and was dragged for about a block. The driver crashed into a tree at Walnut Avenue, pinning Officer Thyne. She died from her injuries at Sentara Norfolk General.

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. Currently, he is facing charges of felony homicide, felony evade and elude and possession of narcotics.

Ivy Runnels, the front seat passenger in the vehicle with Green, was arrested on a drug charge.

Chief Drew said there is body camera footage and that it is “very clear.”

The investigation is ongoing. Officers were investigating in the area of Monitor-Merrimac Overlook Park on Friday morning, where Chief Drew says they collected additional evidence.

The forensic unit was seen taking pictures in Shawna Roundtree’s backyard.

“It’s scary, it’s really unnerving,” Roundtree said. “The stop was right across the bridge it seems like every time something happens over on that side they flee over to this side.”

Jeremy Rayle lives near 16th Street, he said he came home from choir practice on Thursday night and saw officers investigating the deadly incident.

“I went to talk to the officer and all he could tell me was it wasn’t good,” said Rayle. “All I could do was pray, pray for the family.”

According to the Newport News Police Fallen Officers page, Thursday is the first line of duty death in Newport News since Officer Larry Douglas Bland died May 13, 1994 — almost 26 years ago.

Condolences started pouring in from local police departments upon news of the Newport News officer’s death.

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