A prosecutor has questioned whether St. Louis police are blocking the investigation of an officer who was arrested after playing a Russian roulette-type game that ended with one off-duty officer fatally shot in the chest.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner put forth the idea that St. Louis police may have intentionally tried to block drug and alcohol testing of Officer Nathaniel Hendren, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action Friday after off-duty officer Katlyn Alix was shot in Hendren’s home, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
In a letter written to St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief John Hayden and Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards, Gardner said several members of her staff went to the shooting scene Thursday and requested that blood be drawn from Hendren and his partner, who were both on-duty at the time of the shooting but for some reason were at Hendren’s house with Alix during their shift.
Her office prepared a search warrant to obtain the blood, but said they were told by an officer on-duty that an area hospital would not honor the search warrant, despite the hospital’s regular habit of working with the prosecutor’s office.
Later, she claimed, a prosecutor from her office asked again whether the blood had been taken and was told a “sample” had been taken to do a urine analysis and a breathalyzer had been given “in lieu of the more exact blood specimen test,” according to the letter.
She went on to say that on Friday her team learned that the urine samples and breathalyzer had been taken by internal affairs in a way that could block the use of the results in any criminal prosecution, calling it an “obstructionist tactic to prevent us from understanding the state of the officers during the commission of this alleged crime.”
Gardner claimed that when her office first heard about the shooting, they were told it was an “accident” and said she felt it was inappropriate that investigators had come to a conclusion so early in the investigation.
"It's particularly troublesome given that the Force Investigative Unit is required to conduct objective investigations of officer-involved shootings," she wrote.
Edwards later responded to the claims, calling them “ludicrous." He said the results of the screenings would be provided to prosecutors and the public, the St. Louis Dispatch reports.
He also said that investigations are “fluid” and that officers were only operating on the information they had been given at the time.
After Gardner’s letter was released, Hendren’s attorney Talmage Newton IV questioned the prosecutor’s objectivity in the case and claimed she had “ignored the seasoned professionals on the scene” when she decided to file the charges against Hendren.
"It is clear that Circuit Attorney Gardner cannot be impartial, unbiased or objective in continuing to prosecute these charges, and that the entire investigation is unsalvageable and the prosecution irreversibly tainted due to Circuit Attorney Gardner’s unconstitutional investigation and prosecutorial misconduct,” Newton said in a statement.
Alix was allegedly killed after the two were playing with firearms. Hendren reportedly took all the bullets out of his revolver except one, spun the barrel around, pointed it at Alix, and fired. The gun didn’t go off and Alix then took it, aimed it at Hendren, and also fired.
After the gun still didn’t go off, Hendren allegedly took it once more and fired, striking Alix in the chest, KTVI reports.
Newton has also asked that the media and others refrain from speculating about the case.
"We are aware of the rumors, innuendo, and salacious gossip surrounding the accidental death of Officer Katlyn Alix,"Newton said in an earlier statement. "There is no evidence, nor will there ever be, that this was anything more than a tragic accident. Nate Hendren is devastated by the loss of Katlyn Alix.”
[Photo: Associated Press]
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.