HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — The local community, law enforcement and religious leaders gathered Monday night to celebrate the life of Officer Katie Thyne, just days after she was laid to rest over the weekend in New England.
The service was at 6 p.m. in Hampton’s Liberty Live Church at 1021 Big Bethel Road.
Thyne was remembered as a steadfast, optimistic officer who served her country and community in multiple ways — and always with a smile.
“She knew the dangers and faced it with courage and dedication,” Police Chief Steve Drew said, at times in tears. “… we love you Katie and I want you to know I’m still proud of you.”
On Monday, Newport News patrol car 5254 — the one Thyne drove while working her beat — was on display in front of Liberty Live Church. It was draped on the roof in black and covered with flowers, signs, Teddy bears, and pictures of Thyne, who never met a person she didn’t want to help, many have said.
When the service started, the roughly 2,900-seat sanctuary was mostly full. Inside, there was a photo of Thyne and her daughter at the front stage, as well as a floral arrangement in the shape of a police badge bearing Thyne’s number and a folded American flag.
Thyne’s family, her mother, and three brothers, were in attendance and three flags were given to Thyne’s loved ones at the close of the ceremony.
Thyne’s sergeant, Sgt. Steve Pennington, read aloud a letter to Thyne’s 2-year-old daughter during his reflections at the service.
“Your mommy is a hero, we’ll always be here for you,” he said.
Pennington also remembered Thyne as a courageous and a bright light in the department.
“Katie was a fantastic officer, she never gave up and she never stopped fighting,” Pennington said.
Gov. Ralph Northam was also in attendance and spoke for a few minutes about Thyne.
“I know that in her short time here, she made a difference in so many lives,” Northam said. “All gave some and some gave all. Well Katie gave all. This tragedy should remind us all that every day — every day is precious and we should live every day to the fullest.”
On Saturday, more than 30 Newport News police officers attended Thyne’s funeral services in Lowell, Massachusetts, where Thyne was born.
Thyne, who leaves behind a 2-year-old daughter, is remembered as someone who was always smiling and “a true hero” to the community she’d been serving since her police graduation ceremony in June 2019.
The U.S. Navy veteran was fatally injured in a traffic stop near Monitor-Merrimac Overlook Park on Jan. 23. Police said the driver tried to flee, dragging Thyne by his driver’s side door about a block before she was pinned between the car and a tree. She died at the hospital later that night.
In lieu of flowers, Thyne’s family asks for donations to be made in support of her daughter Raegan through the Officer Thyne Memorial Fund. A verified GoFundMe has also been started in support of Thyne’s family.
Northam ordered all United States and Virginia flags across the commonwealth to be lowered to half-staff Monday in honor of Thyne.
More ceremony video coverage:
- VIDEO: Bagpipes enter Liberty Live Church for ceremony
- VIDEO: Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew talks about Thyne’s impact on the community
- VIDEO: Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew of Officer Katie Thyne: ‘I’m still proud of you’
- VIDEO: Eulogy by Newport News Police Chaplain Pastor Don Reid
- VIDEO: End of watch
- VIDEO: Flag folding ceremony
- Full coverage: Memorial service for fallen Newport News Officer Katie Thyne Feb. 3, 2020
Numerous people spoke during Thyne’s memorial Monday, but people outside the church paying their respects ahead of the service also remembered Thyne for her positive demeanor.
An example of that is Carl Root’s family. He was out at her patrol car praying for her ahead of the memorial. Thyne was called to his home when his granddaughter wanted to hurt herself.
“They took her to a place where she could get help because she has had a lot of stuff going on. She is the only one my granddaughter would trust,” Root said.
There are scores of stories like that in her short career. The stories make people like Barbara Miller come by and say she cares.
“I just wanted to pay my respects. I just feel like she is a hero. They all are … she was so young and it’s so sad. It just breaks my heart,” Root said.
Ahead of the service, a Newport News Police spokesman said he believed Thyne would look down on Monday’s service with what she was known for: a smile.
“I guarantee Katie is looking down from above. She will have a big smile on her face after what she sees this afternoon,” said MPO Brandon Maynard, spokesman for Newport News Police.