A former St. Louis police officer changed his plea to guilty on charges that he killed his colleague Kaitlyn Alix in a Russian roulette-style game last year.
Nathanial Hendren, 30, who had previously entered a not guilty plea in the case, agreed Friday to serve seven years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action, KSDK-TV reported.
Hendren was emotional in the courtroom as he accepted responsibility and apologized to Alix's mother for his role in her death.
"I hope in some small way it can help heal the brokenness I've caused," Hendren reportedly said through tears.
On Jan. 24, Hendren and his partner, Officer Patrick Riordan, were on duty and supposed to be patrolling a different district, but instead, they were at Hendren's home in the early hours of the morning. Officer Kaitlyn Alix, 24, had stopped by for unknown reasons.
According to a probable cause statement, Hendren and Alix were "playing with [their] firearms" when Hendren pulled out a revolver. He allegedly emptied the cylinder, put one cartridge back in, pointed the gun away from the other officers and pulled the trigger. The gun didn't fire.
Alix took the gun and pointed it at Hendren and pulled the trigger. Again, the gun didn't fire. Then, Hendren took then gun, pointed it at Alix, and pulled the trigger. This time, the gun fired and the bullet struck Alix in the chest.
She was rushed to the hospital but later died from her injuries.
Riordan had allegedly chastised Hendren and Alix for their behavior and began to exit the apartment when he heard the shot go off. He has not been charged in the case.
.@SLMPD officer charged in fellow officer’s death. #breaking https://t.co/JJt16BoITp— Casey Nolen (@Casey Nolen)1548458339.0
Hendren resigned from the police department soon after the incident and had his state peace officer license suspended, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. He was set to go on trial next month when he decided to change his plea to guilty.
Several of Alix's relatives were in the courtroom Friday to read letters and share thoughts about her.
"I was not ready to say goodbye," her mother, Aimee Lyn Wahlers, said. "Having to deal with the loss of my daughter and how she was killed, it plays over in my head every day. Katie was my whole life. She wasn't just my daughter, she was my best friend."
Last October, Wahlers filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Hendren, his partner, the on-duty police sergeant, and the city of St. Louis.
The lawsuit claims Hendren had a "complicated psychiatric history, including but not limited to anxiety and depression, PTSD, suicidal ideations and gestures" before being hired as a police officer.
He also "had a history of acting recklessly with firearms, forcing previous girlfriends to play 'Russian roulette' and engage in other sexual activity that involved firearms," the lawsuit alleges.
Hendren's attorney said at the time that the lawsuit contained "all sorts of inaccuracies and misstatements," but did not go into details about what was inaccurate.
Both Hendren, a former Marine, and Alix, a former U.S. Army reservist, had military backgrounds and extensive firearm training.