You might call it a drama in real life, but the fact is that– by any chance, it wasn’t a joke. Two police officers were playing a ‘deadly’ game — taking turns to fire bullets at each other from a revolver. But like a comical twist in an otherwise serious action movie, there was only one bullet in the chamber. But for the two dramatis personae it was not a deliberate vengeful or unintended killing and started off just as an innocent game.
They were the best of friends. They shared an intimate relationship and were planning to move into an apartment together. They shared a cordial professional and social relationship with each other and sometimes performed their duty in the St. Louis Police department together.
But look at the quirk of fate– 24-year-old Katlyn Alix is dead while Nathaniel Hendren 29, is now facing the flak for involuntary manslaughter and felony.
Alix who was off duty drove down to Hendren’s house on 700th block at Dover Street in Carondelet.
This is where the mystery deepens. According to sources two male officers were present in Hendren’s house at that time. Hendren and the other officer whose identity is being kept secret by the St. Louis Police were supposedly on a late shift.
According to sources as per official norms, on-duty officers are expected to be present in their assigned districts at all times. This is also what the police manual mentions under the “Responsibilities of the District Police Officers” section which states that officers are required to “constantly patrol his/her beat, except when on special assignments and shall not lounge, loaf or gather with others at any place.”
Clearly, Hendren and the other officer flouted this directive when they assembled at Hendren’s house– at least two miles away from the district they were patrolling. Hendren and the other Police officer participated in the roll-call and reportedly without any apparent rhyme or reason, went back to Hendren’s house.
The investigators, inspecting the crime scene have recovered three cell phones from Hendren’s house and are cross-checking the call, chat and SMS text messages to decipher the ‘hidden links’, if any.
According to an officer who didn’t wish to be identified, Alix couldn’t sleep the previous night and kept sending text messages to both the officers. This might be the reason why the three converged at Hendren’s place, sources say.
Once they reached Hendren’s house, the two police officers Hendren and Alix allegedly started consuming alcohol and playing a mock game by– ‘pointing and firing’ the revolver at each other.
Hendren reportedly took out all the bullets but before anyone could say ‘Jack Robinson’ changed his mind and inserted one bullet back in the revolver, and pulled the trigger pointed it away from both of them. Nothing happened.
Out of the blue, Alix had a ‘bright idea’ and pointed the revolver at Hendren and pulled the trigger. Still, nothing happened.
At his turn, Hendren pointed the revolver at Alex and pulled the trigger, as a result, the single bullet in the revolving cylinder thrust out and hit Alix in the chest at point-blank range.
Hendren and the other officer reported the shooting on the police radio at 12:56 a.m. and took Alix to the St. Louis University Hospital in their police SUV, but she was pronounced dead.
Hendren was reportedly so upset that he accidentally banged his head on the back windshield of a parked police SUV, shattering it to bits and suffered minor head injuries which needed him to be hospitalized.
The police department refused to comment on the case but in a brief news conference, Chief Hayden said that the officer “mishandled” the weapon and the manner in which the SUV’s windshield broke was “accidental.” He didn’t elaborate any further.
Later the St. Louis Police spokesman assured Alix’s family of a thorough and competent investigation by the Force Investigation Unit and warrants being issued for Involuntary Manslaughter and Armed Criminal Action “based upon the evidence.”
Described the shooting incident as “devastating” he said that Katlyn and her family deserve accountability and justice. “This should never happen. We don’t expect this to happen. We expect our officers to utilize their training and be the most responsible people ever when it comes to handling firearms and unfortunately, it did not happen in this situation,” he said.
Both Alix and Hendren have military backgrounds. Alix served for six years in the Army, while Hendren was a Marine Commando.
But the issue uppermost in the minds of everyone’s now is would Hendren be fired from the police department? If so, when? And also would the State pay him to engage a lawyer to defend him from the prosecution’s punch?