Chief Hayden Calls Gardner's Accusations of Obstruction 'Absolutely Irresponsible'

January 31, 2019 - 3:23 pm
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX/AP) - St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden lashed back at the city prosecutor, who earlier this week accused police of blocking her investigation of the shooting death of Officer Katlyn Alix. 

Hayden raised his voice, responding to accusations from Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner that police "obstructed" her investigators from getting a blood sample of the two male officers in the apartment where officer Alix was shot, while allegedly playing a Russian Roulette-style game.

Related: Kim Gardner Talks Sentencing Reforms as Tensions Rise with Police

Gardner's office released a statement after Thursday's press conference: 

Circuit Attorney Gardner stands by the contents of her letter and by the concerns she has regarding the actions of the police department in this incident. The Circuit Attorney’s position is that this criminal investigation should take precedence over the internal administrative investigation. In this instance, internal policies were used to circumvent our efforts to obtain the evidence we requested. 

“It is time to focus our efforts on working together to seek the truth of this matter, so we can get justice for Katlyn Alix and the community,” said Gardner.

Also on Thursday, the accused killer of Alix, officer Nathaniel Hendren, 29, was freed on bail Thursday, but with stipulations that keep him homebound and without access to firearms. 

During the press conference, Hayden declined to answer a long list of questions from a room full of reporters about the case. Among them, "Were there drugs and alcohol at the scene?" "Why didn't he get blood samples from the officers?" "Does he have any doubts about the Russian Roulette narrative, or thinks there's more to what happened?"

And, "Why did the alleged shooter, Officer Nathaniel Hendren have a black eye in his mug shot?"

Hayden said his initial phrasing of the shooting as an accident wasn't meant to imply conclusions had been drawn.

"I later learned that the circumstances surrounding the shooting were much more reckless and dangerous than what I originally understood,'' he said.

He was particularly angered by Gardner's accusation that officers tried to obstruct drug and alcohol testing of the male officers, calling the claim "unwarranted, certainly untimely and absolutely irresponsible."