ST. LOUIS - A former St. Louis police officer who admitted he was playing with a gun when he shot and killed his colleague, went to prison Friday.
Nathaniel Hendren was sentenced to seven years after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action.
One of the most emotional moments was when fallen officer Katie Alix’s mother walked up to the judge sobbing about her daughter. Just a few feet away stood the suspect, now convict, Nathaniel Hendren. He was shaking.
Officer Alix’s mother, Aimee Chadwick, told the judge: “(Hendren) knew better. He knew what he was doing.”
Chadwick’s daughter died in January 2019 after being shot at Hendren’s duplex on Dover. Hendren was on-duty and wearing his bulletproof vest. Alix was off-duty and not wearing a vest. She was 24.
Alix’s sister, Taylor Chadwick, also spoke to the judge. She looked over occasionally at Hendren as she said, “Police officer Nathaniel Hendren, a title you’ll never have again. Police officer Katlyn Nicole Alix – a title she’ll never lose. ‘I love you’ – something I can never say to her again.”
“Nathan is the only one who really knows the truth (about what happened that January 2019 night). He is the last person who deserves it,” she said.
Hendren also spoke.
“I know the emptiness left behind. It’s a direct result of my actions. I have no excuse. And I’m not looking for one,” he said.
After the hearing, Hendren’s attorney Talmage Newton addressed reporters outside the courthouse.
“What didn’t come through in court today, I think, was how much Nate cared for Katlyn,” Newton said. “They were friends. They had ridden together. They were partners. He was deeply affected by this.”
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner also attended the plea and sentencing.
“Though there is nothing the law can do to restore the life of Ms. Katlyn Alix, it can make sure the person responsible for her senseless death is held accountable for his careless behavior,” she said.
The courtroom was packed. The judge said he received 19 victim impact statements. He reminded everybody that the decision on the seven-year sentence was not his decision, rather based on a prearranged plea deal between the parties.
Hendren was then immediately cuffed and taken away.
You can read Taylor Chadwick’s complete impact statement below:
“When Katie told us she was transferring out of the sixth district to the less violent second district, we were all excited and relieved. Looking back, we should have never let her leave the safety of Hereford’s car. He adored her. They worked seamlessly together and she was happy then. Almost immediately when she transferred, she changed. No one could figure out why but we all saw it. Now we know it was because of Nathaniel and his toxic influence.
“Now for a not so smooth, chaotic transition because that's what my life has looked like the past 13 months.
“When I got to the hospital, I knew something was terribly wrong. An officer told me she didn’t make it. I felt my body breaking down. I fell into tears that wouldn’t stop. Katie was the strong one in our family. I was forced to step up. At the age of 21, I lost the closest and most important person in my life. Katie was more than a sister. I don't know if Nathaniel has a sister but if he does she couldn’t be half the sister mine was. She supported me, she protected me and she loved me better than I deserved most days. Katie was my hero from the time I was born until the day Nathaniel took her from us.
“Upon walking into the hospital room, my heart instantly felt like someone squeezed it and then pushed it down to the deepest darkest depths of my stomach. I can remember every detail perfectly. The memories haunt me still. I replay them in my head when I’m awake and I dream about it when I’m asleep. I’ve had no escape from the pain and trauma Nathaniel caused. My sister, my best friend, my hero laying there lifeless. A white sheet covered most of her. Her right hand fell out, smeared with blood. Those long skinny fingers I used to put mine between were pale and cold. It was the last time I would see her black curly hair the way she did it. The funeral home messed it up. I could hardly look at it past the tube protruding from her mouth.
“The damage Nathaniel caused me, my family and the friends who loved her is beyond repair. He changed peoples’ lives forever. Katie was a tender and loving soul who left a positive impact on everyone she met. Nathaniel stole that from the world. Because of his reckless disregard for her life, we are all left with unimaginable grief. My children are left with a mother who is merely going through the motions. I pray one day they can see me truly happy again, which I know is no concern of Nathaniel’s. I dread holidays and milestones without her. Her approval and encouragement was important to me and I’ll never see it again. I have spent the last year of my life fielding questions I don’t know how to answer. Nathaniel is the only one who knows the truth but he's the last person who deserves it.
“The pain I’ve experienced in the last year is nothing short of maddening. I would not wish it upon anyone but Nathaniel. I’ve spent more time crying than I even care to admit. I don’t know Nathaniel and he has made the most negative impact on my life. I hate the imbalance of that statement but, like everything else where my sister’s death is concerned, I have no control and nothing is fair.
“In closing, and to further prove the unfair imbalance Nathaniel created I leave you with this.
“Police Officer Nathaniel Hendren, a title he’ll never have again Police officer Katlyn Alix, a title she will never lose.
“I love you, something I never get to tell her again despite deserving it most I love you, something I imagine Nathaniel will get to hear from his family still, despite deserving it least.”