A 24-year-old woman is dead after being shot in her apartment by a fellow police officer during a game of Russian Roulette. Yes, it's as strange as it sounds.
Officer Katlyn Alix was fatally shot by Officer Nathaniel Hendren, 29, while she was off duty. Alix's husband, also a police officer, was not home at the time. Hendren's partner, who has not been named, was also at the scene, and told police that they were at Alix's apartment shortly after 1 a.m. on January 24th. Hendren allegedly emptied the cylinder of a revolver, then placed a cartridge back in. He allegedly spun the cylinder, pointed it away from everyone and pulled the trigger, but it didn't fire.
The partner then says that Alix took the gun, pointed it at Hendren, pulled the trigger, but again it did not fire. The partner allegedly told Alix and Hendren that " they shouldn't be playing with guns and that they were police officers," according to a probable cause statement made by police.
"He felt uncomfortable with them playing with guns and didn't want to have any part of it and started to leave," the statement said.
Hendren took the gun back, pulled the trigger, and a shot went off. Officer Alix was struck in the chest.
"As (Hendren's partner) left the room but before leaving the apartment, he heard a shot," police said.
Hendren and his partner radioed for help, but by the time Alix was rushed to the hospital, she was already dead. According to police, the preliminary investigation showed that Hendren "mishandled the gun," with the commissioner calling it an "accidental discharge of the weapon." Police found the gun at the scene, but didn't say if it was a service weapon. They also didn't mention why Hendren and his partner were at Alix's apartment during their shift, which was miles away from their assigned patrol area.
Hendren has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action. If he's found guilty, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
"Today, as much as it saddens my staff and me to file these charges, Katlyn and her family deserve accountability and justice," St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner said.
Hendren's attorney, Talmage Newton, released a statement on the death of Alix.
"The death of Officer Kaitlyn Alix was a tragic accident that has unalterably impacted the lives of everyone involved," he said in a statement to local media. "I urge the public, as well as members of the police department, to wait until the investigation is complete, and all of the facts have been presented, before coming to any conclusions about what they believe happened that unfortunate morning."
After taking Alix to the hospital, Hendren was also admitted, after he head-butted the back window of a parked police SUV at the hospital. Hendren broke the window and suffered minor injuries to his head. His mugshot shows him with a severe black eye.
Alix's parents have hired a legal team, as they want to ensure a "thorough investigation is performed." Considering their daughter served six years in the U.S. Army Reserves, they want to know what went wrong.
"Certainly, we're looking into all avenues ... including, potentially, civil litigation," Scott Rosenblum, the family's attorney, said. "The family is convinced that with Katlyn's training, both police and military, there remains a substantial amount of unanswered questions ... questions about the circumstances of the event."
Even the mayor of St. Louis, where the shooting occurred, doesn't understand what went wrong.
"I'm disturbed about this incident, and very sad, and very heartbroken," the mayor said, according to local station KSDK. "The series of decisions that were made by these young officers led to something that never should have happened. But it did."
If you ask me, something about this doesn't add up. Why were there two on-duty officers at an off-duty officer's apartment, after midnight, miles away from where they were supposed to be? Where was Alix's husband? And why on earth were they playing Russian Roulette? It's not adding up to me.
An investigation into Alix's death is being conducted by the department's Force Investigation Unit, as well as the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
[H/T: USA Today]