ST. LOUIS – There were big developments Thursday in the shooting death of St. Louis police Officer Katlyn Alix.
Her alleged killer, fellow St. Louis police Officer Nathaniel Hendren, was in court to have his bond adjusted. He posted bond and was released after the hearing.
For the first time since the day of the incident a week ago, St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden spoke out. He had blistering words for the prosecutor, Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, and her suspicions of police obstructing justice in the case.
“Our Force Investigative Unit and our Internal Affairs Division followed city regulations and department procedures to the letter,” Hayden said. “The accusation by the circuit attorney that any action taken by the members of force investigative unit or by our internal affairs on this tragic morning as an obstructionist tactic was unwarranted, certainly untimely, and absolutely irresponsible!”
Alix was off-duty at Hendren’s home in south St. Louis. Hendren is accused of shooting and killing her as they played with a revolver. Hendren and his partner were both there, on-duty, but out of their assigned patrol area.
Hayden initially called the shooting accidental. Gardner questioned why police investigators did not seek blood samples from the officers for drug and alcohol analysis.
Hendren is at least the eighth city police officer to be charged with a crime for incidents occurring in just the past 16 months.
There will be new measures to track officers' whereabouts, Hayden said.
All of these recent cases and resulting criminal charges should be enough to put his officers on notice, he added.
“What I can do about it is ensure that these investigations are done appropriately and that the proper result comes about,” he said. “As we speak, I think it sends a message to officers about conducting themselves better.”
More charges against more officers in unrelated cases could be coming soon, Hayden said. He declined to be specific.
Effective immediately, department commanders will be attending "roll calls" at the beginning of shifts to better keep officers in check, he said. Commanders will also verify the locations of all on-duty officers every hour via police radio or GPS.
All 285 patrol vehicles will be getting new laptop computers with updated GPS tracking. Forty vehicles already have the new laptops, he said.
Gardner stands by the issues she's raised.
"It's time to focus our efforts on working together to seek the truth of this matter," she said.