A former St. Louis police officer accused of killing another officer while playing Russian roulette pleaded guilty on Friday and was sentenced to seven years in prison, the authorities said.
The former officer, Nathaniel R. Hendren, 30, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree involuntary manslaughter and one count of armed criminal action in the shooting death of Katlyn Alix, another officer with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, according to Kimberly M. Gardner, the St. Louis circuit attorney.
Mr. Hendren was sentenced to seven years on the manslaughter charge and three years, to be served concurrently, on the second charge, Ms. Gardner said in a statement.
The shooting on Jan. 24, 2019, drew national attention because Mr. Hendren was on duty at the time. Ms. Gardner had also accused the Police Department of obstructing the investigation in its rush to initially label the shooting an accident.
Mr. Hendren had been on duty when he met Officer Alix, who was off duty, at his apartment where the two began “dry-firing” their handguns, according to the plea agreement.
Mr. Hendren had produced his revolver, emptied the cylinder and put one round back in, the statement said, adding: “Mr. Hendren pointed the revolver down the hallway and pulled the trigger. The gun did not discharge.”
Officer Alix then took the gun from Mr. Hendren, pointed it at him and pulled the trigger. It did not fire.
Mr. Hendren retrieved the gun, pointed it at her and pulled the trigger. It fired and Officer Alix was fatally shot in the chest, the authorities said.
Mr. Hendren’s partner, who was present and not identified, told the authorities that he felt uncomfortable they were playing with guns and began to leave before he heard the gunfire, according to a probable cause statement.
Ms. Gardner described Officer Alix, as “a vibrant 24-year-old promising law enforcement officer who honorably served the people of the City of St. Louis.”
“The reckless behavior that took place that early morning has left an unfillable void for her grieving husband, her parents and a host of loving family and friends,” she said.
Mr. Hendren’s lawyer, Talmage E. Newton IV, called Officer Alix’s death “a tragic accident.”
“Mr. Hendren has accepted full responsibility for his role in the events of that night,” he said on Saturday. “This plea will save the family the trauma of a trial and hopefully aid in the healing process.”
Officer Alix graduated from the police academy in 2017. Allison Hawk, a spokeswoman for the Circuit Attorney’s Office, said Mr. Hendren graduated from the academy in 2017 in a different class from Officer Alix.