ST. LOUIS, Mo. – A former St. Louis police officer, accused of fatally shooting his off-duty colleague while playing a game with a revolver, changed his plea to guilty on Friday.
Nathaniel Hendren had in April pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action for the Jan. 24, 2019, fatal shooting of Officer Katlyn Alix, who was off duty when she was killed. But Hendren and prosecutors agreed on a guilty plea Friday.
Hendren, who was 29 at the time of the fatal incident, agreed to serve seven years in prison, according to KSDK.
Hendren and at least one other on-duty officer with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department were in his house with Alix, 24, when she was shot just before 1 a.m.
A probable cause statement said that Hendren and Alix were “playing with firearms when the defendant produced a revolver.”
Hendren allegedly emptied the cylinder of the weapon and then put one cartridge back into the cylinder, spun the cylinder and pointed the weapon away and pulled the trigger. It did not fire.
Alix then took the gun and pointed it at Hendren and pulled the trigger, according to the probable cause statement. Once again, the weapon did not fire.
Next, Hendren “took the gun back and pointed it at the victim pulled the trigger causing the gun to discharge,” the probable cause statement reads. This time, Alix was shot in the chest.
Hendren and the other officer rushed Alix to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
As police investigated, so did the Circuit Attorney’s Office, as is protocol with police shootings. Consequently, Hendren was charged the next day, NBC News reported.
Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who has had an acrimonious relationship with local law enforcement officers, later sent a letter to the police department, accusing them of using an “obstructionist tactic to prevent us from understanding the state of the officers during the commission of this alleged crime.”
She alleged that the police department failed to take blood draws on the involved officers, when “drugs or alcohol may be a contributing factor in a potential crime.”
Gardner released the following statement:
“The events of Jan. 24, 2019 took the life of Kaitlyn Alix, a vibrant 24-year-old promising law enforcement officer who honorably served the people of the City of St. Louis. The reckless behavior that took place that early morning has left an unfillable void for her grieving husband, her parents, and a host of loving family and friends. Mr. Hendren’s plea admits that his actions were the cause of Officer Alix’s death. Although there is nothing that the law can do to restore the life of Officer Alix, it can make sure that the person responsible for her senseless death is held accountable for his careless behavior.”
I am deeply sorry for the senseless loss of Kaitlyn Alix. My heart goes out to her family, friends and the hard working men and women of the St. Louis Metropolitian Police department. https://t.co/PXKzone3Me
— Kimberly Gardner (@StLouisCityCA) February 28, 2020
During the court proceedings on Friday, Hedren had a chance to apologize to Alix’s mother.
“I hope in some small way it can help heal the brokenness I’ve caused,” Hendren told her.