Judge Recused in “Russian Roulette” Police Killing

By MCNS Staff

Nathaniel Hendren after the January 24 killing.

Nathaniel Hendren after the January 24 killing.

A St. Louis judge is distancing himself from a case involving a policeman accused of killing a fellow officer while reportedly playing a version of Russian Roulette.

According to local reports, Circuit Judge David Roither recused himself following a motion filed by the attorney for Officer Nathaniel Hendren. The motion said Roither’s comments at an earlier hearing suggested bias against Hendren.

Reports state that among other comments, Roither said that as a hunter, he knows you “don’t point a muzzle at anything you don’t intend to shoot.”

Online court records indicate the case has been reassigned to Judge Thomas McCarthy.

Charges of first degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action were levied against Hendren following the Thursday, January 24 shooting of 24-year-old officer Katlyn Alix. Reports from prosecutors say Hendren and two-year officer Alix took turns pointing a gun loaded with one bullet at each other and pulling the trigger. Alix was shot in the chest shortly before 1 a.m. and died from her wounds at St. Louis University Hospital.

Critics are suspicious of the incident. Authorities state that Officer Hendren and his partner were on-duty and had abandoned their post to go to his home with Officer Alix the morning the killing occurred. The name of the other on-duty officer involved in the incident has not been released.

Mugshots show Hendren with a black eye when he was taken into custody on Monday, Jan. 31. A local news outlet reported that he got the injury after smashing his head into the window of a police cruiser after the January 24 killing.

Local reports state that Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner, who is tasked with investigating the killing of Alix, has criticized the police, saying they used an “obstructionist tactic” during the investigation. Gardner also said police had initially called the shooting an accident, which was “completely inappropriate.”

A report suggests the two on-duty officers were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the killing, which violates policy.

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