Newly released bodycam footage has uncovered disturbing remarks made by a Seattle police officer concerning the death of a young woman who was struck and killed by a police car. Officer Daniel Auderer can be heard joking and belittling 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula, who was killed by his colleague, Officer Kevin Dave, on January 23. Auderer can be heard laughing and saying, "She is dead," before joking, "No, it's a regular person." Towards the end of the video, he suggests the city should "just write a check" for the incident, despite misstating Kandula's age as 26. These comments were made during an investigation into the fatal crash.
The bodycam footage also reveals that Auderer did not believe a criminal investigation was being conducted regarding the incident, claiming that Dave's speed of 50 mph was not reckless for a trained driver. However, a report released in June contradicts Auderer's statement, revealing that Dave was actually driving 74 mph in a 25-mph zone while responding to a different high-priority call. Auderer was responsible for conducting a drug test on Dave at the scene of the crash and later made a call to discuss the incident with another colleague.
Dave's bodycam footage shows him admitting that he "f-ked up" after speeding through the intersection where the collision occurred. He can be seen slowing the car before striking Kandula. The victim, a master's student at Northeastern University's Seattle campus, had arrived from India to pursue a degree in information systems. She was due to graduate in December.
The video of the phone call between Auderer and his colleague was uploaded to the Seattle Police Department's YouTube page in the interest of transparency. The department stated that it will not comment on the matter until the Office of Police Accountability concludes its investigation into the incident. The Seattle Community Police Commission expressed its concerns about the incident and the resistance of the Seattle Police Officers Guild to officer accountability measures.
Seattle police union leaders are now under investigation due to the insensitive remarks made by Auderer. The Seattle Police Department released the bodycam footage from Auderer's camera, where he can be heard discussing the incident with Mike Solan, the president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild. Auderer stated that the officer involved in the collision was not driving recklessly and that the incident should not be subject to a criminal investigation.
The Seattle Times reported that the officer was actually driving at 74 mph, and Kandula was thrown over 100 feet. The Seattle Police Department declined to confirm the details of the collision, stating that a public records request would be necessary to obtain information about the officer's speed, the use of sirens, any disciplinary action taken, and the officer's employment status.
The Seattle Police Department learned about Auderer's comments from an employee who listened to the conversation "in the routine course of business." Concerned by the nature of the statements, the employee reported them to their chain of command, leading to an investigation by the Office of Police Accountability. This oversight agency is responsible for investigating police misconduct and recommending disciplinary actions. They will investigate the context in which the statements were made and whether any policies were violated.
Jaahnavi Kandula's family has remained silent on the matter, but her uncle, Ashok Mandula, expressed his disappointment, stating, "A life is a life." The Seattle Community Police Commission described the bodycam footage as "heartbreaking and shockingly insensitive."
The Seattle Police Department released the bodycam video "in the interest of transparency" as the investigation into the incident continues. Officer Auderer turned himself in over the comments, stating that they were taken out of context during a discussion about city lawyers involved in the case. He claimed that his remarks were intended to mock the lawyers and their potential arguments minimizing the payment for the incident. The department employee who overheard the conversation reported their concerns to their superiors.
The Seattle Police Department has been in touch with Kandula's family and expressed their deepest sympathy for the tragic collision. The investigation by the Office of Police Accountability will shed further light on the incident and determine any necessary disciplinary actions.
themes: Seattle Washington (state)