NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — The jury trial for a man charged in the killing of a Newport News police officer began Tuesday.

Vernon Green, a previously convicted felon, is charged with felony homicide and felony hit-and-run in the death of Newport News officer Katie Thyne. Green appeared in court uncuffed in business clothes. He entered a not guilty plea for both charges.

Authorities say Thyne, a 24-year-old former U.S. Navy sailor, was killed in January 2020 after she was dragged for a block by Green’s vehicle during a traffic stop before it crashed into a tree. She later died at the hospital.

Thyne joined the Newport News Police Department in 2018 and was assigned to the South Precinct. She leaves behind her mother, stepfather, three brothers, her aunt, her partner and her now 4-year-old daughter. Her daughter was in the courtroom early Tuesday morning, but she was taken out before the trial began.

Green’s attorney Tyrone Johnson considers this a high-profile case because of the media attention and news coverage. 10 On Your Side cameras and uniformed officers are not allowed in the courtroom gallery throughout the trial. The judge, Christopher Papile, did not allow notebooks in the courtroom for jury selection. Three separate jury pools were interviewed in small groups, Tuesday. Around 5 p.m. a 14-person jury was selected to hear evidence. Two of those people are considered alternate jurors.

“It is painfully slow, I guess it was in the news a lot. That’s the big problem with finding impartial jurors,” Cassie Thyne-Fenlon told 10 On Your Side. Thyne-Fenlon is Katie Thyne’s aunt visiting from Massachusetts and she says she wants justice to be served. “Justice looks like him never seeing the light of day.”

“She was a gift,” said Thyne-Fenlon. “She was just always smiling.  She was just great. We really miss her in our family … she was a big part of our family. She was a great mom, a great sister, niece, and daughter. We miss her every day.”

Johnson previously asked the judge for no media coverage of the trial, but that request was denied.

In April 2021, Green was sentenced to 10 years on separate charges of illegal gun possession and two years for the felony drug possession charges.

Back in January, Green filed a civil complaint alleging Thyne used excessive force and was not properly trained during the traffic stop. The complaint claims Thyne used excessive force against Vernon Green by choking him when Green posed no imminent or immediate threat to her or the community. It also claims Newport News Police Chief Drew is largely responsible for the lack of proper training of Thyne and her failure to employ instructed guidelines that make up the department policy on use of force in nonviolent arrest/custody procedure, and failure of the officers’ need to protect and serve in violation of the Green’s constitutional rights.

Wednesday morning will start with opening statements followed by testimony from officers, detectives, forensics, the medical examiner and possible witnesses. 

It is unclear if Green will testify.

The trial is expected to end Thursday afternoon.

Check for the latest updates.