Cop Charged with Killing Colleague in Game of Russian Roulette
A male St. Louis police officer was charged Friday with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of his off-duty female colleague while playing a deadly game of Russian roulette. The officer could face three to ten years in prison, according to Missouri prosecutors.
The two were “playing with firearms” when Nathaniel Hendren, 29, shot fellow officer Katlyn Alix, 24, at an apartment in the Missouri city in the early hours of Thursday morning, according to a St. Louis Police Department statement.
Police originally said that Alix’s death was an accidental shooting and initially withheld other specifics about what happened in the early morning hours.
We are deeply saddened to announce that the officer transported to the hospital has succumbed to her injuries. We ask that you keep the officer’s family and the entire SLMPD in your thoughts and prayers as we mourn the loss of our officer and friend. pic.twitter.com/NGcU4tpXiU— St. Louis, MO Police (@SLMPD) January 24, 2019
The statement says,
The defendant emptied the cylinder of the revolver and then put one cartridge back into the cylinder. He spun the cylinder and pointed it away and pulled the trigger. The gun did not fire at this point. The victim took the gun and then pointed the gun at the defendant and pulled the trigger. The gun still did not fire. The defendant took the gun back and pointed it at the victim pulled the trigger causing the gun to discharge. The victim was struck in the chest. The victim subsequently died from the gunshot wound to the chest.
Another male officer, who was not named in the probable cause statement, was also at the apartment and tried to discourage the other two officers from playing the dangerous game.
According to the unnamed officer, he told them that “they shouldn’t be playing with guns and that they were police officers.” He started to leave because he felt “uncomfortable with them playing with guns and didn’t want to have any part of it.”
Right after leaving the room he heard the gunshot and rushed back in to see that Ms. Alix had been shot in the chest.
The two male officers drove Ms. Alix to a hospital where she died. Both men were on duty at the time of the shooting.
Police immediately launched an internal investigation and placed both officers on paid leave. On Thursday the commissioner called it an “accidental discharge of the weapon,”
St. Louis police said the charges announced on Friday were the result of a promise Police Commissioner Mr. Hayden made to Ms. Alix’s family to conduct a “thorough and competent investigation.” Hayden has declined to answer questions about why the officers had gathered at the apartment, which was home to one of the men.
#BREAKING: @stlcao has field charges against @SLMPD Officer Nathaniel Hendren. He’s facing an involuntary man slaughter and armed criminal action charged in the shootings death of off duty officer Katlyn Alix.— Ashli Lincoln KMOV (@AshliLincoln) January 25, 2019
Court docs say the two were playing Russian roulette. pic.twitter.com/CWmZNCcuTZ
Kimberly M. Gardner Ms. Gardner, the prosecutor for state-level criminal cases, began her own investigation on Thursday and enlisted the Missouri State Highway Patrol to conduct it.
“This is a devastating incident for Katlyn Alix’s husband, family, parents and for our entire community,” Ms. Gardner said in a statement. “I will hold people accountable regardless of their profession, public status or station in life. As much as it saddens my staff and me to file these charges, Katlyn and her family deserve justice.”
She called Alix “a shining star and a dedicated civil servant” who “represented the police department in an honorable manner, and she had a very bright future.”
"She served her community and her nation with dignity and courage both as a police officer and as a member of the military. That is how she lived, as a hero. And, for now, that is all anybody needs to know."— KMOV (@KMOV) January 24, 2019
RIP Officer Katlyn Alix pic.twitter.com/rFzJSLKMbr
“Officer Alix was an enthusiastic and energetic young woman with a bright future ahead of her,” police chief John Hayden said.
In honor of Officer Katlyn Alix, members of the #SLMPD will be wearing the Department mourning band. "Officer Alix was an enthusiastic and energetic young woman with a bright future ahead of her" -@ChiefJohnHayden pic.twitter.com/BDIZ2d6NOQ— St. Louis, MO Police (@SLMPD) January 24, 2019
Ms. Alix, a military veteran who was married, was a patrol officer who had graduated from the St Louis Police Academy in January 2017. She was not working at the time of her death, but had gone to the apartment to meet the men.
A friend and colleague of Ms. Alix has set up a GoFundMe to raise money to cover the costs of her funeral. So far more than US$7500 (NZ$7878) has been fundraised.
The investigation continues.
Hendren has not yet been arrested, St. Louis Police told BuzzFeed News.
Flags are flying at half-staff and black bunting is being draped over the front of the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association offices to mourn the death of Officer Katlyn Alix. @KMOV pic.twitter.com/P5uEuHTu2P— Russell Kinsaul (@russellkinsaul) January 24, 2019