Ted S. Warren/AP
In body camera footage released this week, a Seattle police officer is heard making insensitive comments about a young woman who died after being struck in a crosswalk by an officer responding to a call.
The footage was recorded on Jan. 24, the morning after Seattle Police Officer Kevin Dave hit Jaahnavi Kandula, 23, with his vehicle while driving 74 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone , in response to a reported overdose.
In the footage, Seattle Police Officer Daniel Auderer, vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, can be heard speaking to someone on the phone. Only the Auderer side of the conversation can be heard. He reportedly spoke to Mike Solan, president of the guild, known as SPOG.
Seattle Police Department
Auderer speaks about the accident and says “it does not appear that a criminal investigation is underway.” Auderer, a drug recognition evaluator who works on SPD’s DUI team, participated in the post-incident process of the crash, screening Dave for impairment.
“I mean, it’s going to 50. It’s not out of control, it’s not reckless for a skilled driver,” Auderer says. “Yeah, lights and sirens.”
“I don’t think she was thrown 40 feet either,” Auderer says.
A report from the SPD Traffic Collision Investigation Team later revealed that Dave was driving at a top speed of 74 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone. Investigators concluded that Dave struck Kandula with his Ford SUV at approximately 63 miles per hour and that Kandula was thrown approximately 138 feet.
In the video, Auderer can be heard laughing, apparently because of what his interlocutor says.
“Yeah, just write a check,” Auderer says with a laugh. “$11,000. Anyway, she was 26, her value was limited.”
The Seattle Police Department said in a statement that the video was “identified in the ordinary course of business by a department employee” who “appropriately raised concerns through his chain of command to the office of the chief”.
The matter was then referred to the Seattle Police Accountability Office “for investigation of the context in which these statements were made and any policy violations that may be involved,” as required by SPD policy and the city’s accountability ordinance.
Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability (OPA) said in a statement to NPR that on August 2, it “became aware of an SPD officer’s comments regarding the tragic death of Jaahnavi Kandula” and immediately launched an investigation. . He said he would not comment further on the matter until its conclusion in order to maintain and protect the integrity of the investigation.
Auderer reportedly said he was making fun of city lawyers
NPR’s attempts to reach Auderer were unsuccessful. But according to a report from Jason Rantz, a conservative Seattle radio host on KTTH, Auderer filed his own report with the Office of Police Accountability after learning his comments were recorded on body camera.
According to KTTH’s report on Auderer’s account, during the call, Solan (the SPOG president) “said it was unfortunate that this turned into lawyers arguing about ‘the value of human life.’ “SPOG did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Auderer reportedly told the Office of Police Accountability that his comments were intended to mock the city’s attorneys, “imitating what an attorney charged with negotiating the case would say and being sarcastic in expressing that they should not offer arguments crazy to minimize the matter. payment.”
“I understand that if any citizen heard this, they would rightly believe that I am insensitive to the loss of human life,” Auderer told the office, according to KTTH. “I also understand that if I heard it, it could diminish trust in the Seattle Police Department and make our job more difficult. That being said, the comment was not made with malice or a hard heart. (He was) quite the contrary.”
Witnesses said Kandula started running when she saw the car speeding up. The accident investigation found that “if Officer DAVE had been traveling 50 mph or less approaching the intersection and encountered (the victim) and Officer DAVE and (the victim) had reacted in the same way; this collision would not have happened. “.
Kandula was scheduled to graduate in December with a master’s degree in information systems from Northeastern University’s Seattle campus, THE Seattle Times reports, and was working to support his mother in India.
“The family has nothing to say,” his uncle, Ashok Mandula, told the newspaper. “Except I wonder if these men’s daughters or granddaughters have any value. A life is a life.”