ST. LOUIS – A St. Louis police officer has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the first degree in the death of a fellow officer, according to the St. Louis circuit attorney.
Nathaniel Hendren, 29, is accused of killing Katlyn Alix, 24, Thursday at his residence, authorities said. She was off-duty when the shooting occurred and Hendren was on-duty, according to the probable cause statement supporting the charges.
The St. Louis Police Department released a booking photo of Hendren, his left eye badly bruised. Police arrested him at St. Louis University Hospital where he was being treated after dropping off Alix, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Hendren suffered the black eye when he slammed his head into the back window of a police vehicle parked at the hospital, shattering the glass, the paper reported.
The probably cause statement said Alix, Hendren and Hendren’s partner were playing with guns when Hendren produced a revolver. Hendren emptied the bullets from the revolver and put one of the bullets back inside the gun, spun the cylinder and fired the gun pointing away from Alix, the statement said.
The gun did not discharge. Alix took the gun and pulled the trigger while pointing at Hendren, but it did not fire, the statement said.
Hendren grabbed the gun back from Alix, pulled the trigger and this time it fired, striking Alix in the chest, the document said.
The third officer at the scene has not been identified. According to the probable cause statement, he advised Alix and Hendren they shouldn’t be playing with guns and left the room. He returned after hearing the gunshot.
Hendren has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the first degree and armed criminal action relating to the death of a fellow police officer. Brian Millikan, his lawyer, declined to comment to CNN on Saturday.
In response to a request for comment, Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, told CNN that the SLPOA was “deferring to the accused officer’s attorney.”
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner said Friday that Hendren could face three to 10 years in prison.
“I will hold people accountable who violate Missouri law regardless of their profession, public status or station in life,” she said in a statement. “Today, as much as it saddens my staff and me to file these charges, Katlyn and her family deserve accountability and justice.”
Victim leaves behind a husband
In first reporting the incident, police said the death was accidental and occurred when an unnamed officer “mishandled” a gun while they were sitting in the living room.
According to a police statement, a call for “officer in need of aid” was put out at 12:56 a.m. and the third officer told the dispatcher they were taking Alix to the hospital.
She was pronounced dead shortly after arrival, the statement said.
Gardner said in a statement the Missouri State Highway Patrol would assist her office in conducting an “independent investigation regarding potential criminal conduct” in connection with the shooting.
The statement notes the circuit attorney’s investigation is part of the protocol in a police shooting to ensure transparency.
The police department’s Force Investigation Unit also is investigating.
Alix had two years of experience on the force, the SLMPD said. She leaves behind a husband, her parents, and a sister, among other family members.
Aimee Chadwick, Alix’s mother, declined to comment to CNN on Saturday, citing the ongoing investigation.
SLMPD Commissioner John Hayden called Alix “an enthusiastic and energetic young woman with a bright future ahead of her.”
The St. Louis police union released a statement in which it recognized that the public wants to “understand what happened.”
“So do we,” the union said. “But for now, we wait; we wonder, and we weep.”
In addition to Alix, at least 10 other police officers have died in 2019, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Five of them died in firearms-related deaths, three in traffic accidents and two others of unspecified causes.
CNN Wire contributed to this report.