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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

Friday, October 16, 2020

Previously Convicted Felon, Who Allegedly Killed Newport News Police Officer, Pleads Guilty to Possession of a Firearm

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A Newport News man pleaded guilty today to being a previously convicted felon in possession of a firearm and felony possession of marijuana. Both charges stem from the defendant’s alleged involvement in a January traffic stop that led to the death of Newport News Police Officer Katie Thyne.

According to court documents and statements made in court, on January 23, Vernon Evander Green II, 38, encountered Newport News Police at the Monitor Merrimac Overlook. Police responded to the area after reports of a vehicle with two occupants who appeared to be smoking marijuana. The officers found Green in the driver’s seat and asked him to exit the vehicle. He failed to comply with the officers’ requests and instead fled the scene.

A later search of the vehicle resulted in the recovery of marijuana in different places of the vehicle. Officers found a soft cooler bag near Green’s vehicle that had the word “BrightView” written on the front. The bag contained Green’s picture and a Kel-Tec CNC Industries firearm with Green’s fingerprint on the magazine. The BrightView cooler bag had been in the defendant’s vehicle during the encounter with the Newport News police officers at the Monitor Merrimac Overlook. The defendant admitted he had previously been convicted of a felony and was not allowed to possess a firearm.

Green pleaded guilty to felon in possession of a firearm and possession of marijuana, a felony due to Green’s prior felony drug conviction. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when sentenced on Feb. 18, 2021. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. Click here for more information about Project Guardian.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Washington Field Division; and Steve R. Drew, Chief of Newport News Police, made the announcement after U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence R. Leonard accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard J. Zlotnick and Lisa R. McKeel are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 4:20-cr-35.

Project Guardian
Firearms Offenses
Joshua Stueve Director of Public Affairs
Updated October 16, 2020