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Racism, Assault, Abuse: History of Seattle Cop Who Mocked Indian Student's Death

Daniel Auderer, who mocked Jaahnavi Kandula's death, has been the subject of at least 18 internal investigations.

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South Asians
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Trigger Warning: Police brutality, violence and assault.

After outrage over Seattle police officer Daniel Auderer mocking the tragic death of Indian-origin student Jaahnavi Kandula, Auderer's history of racially biased incidents while on duty have come to light.

After Kandula lost her life after being struck by a Seattle police cruiser, Auderer, in a body camera video which was released on 11 September, could be heard joking about the incident with SPOG president Mike Solan.

During the conversation, Auderer is heard stating, "She is dead," followed by a burst of laughter moments later. He then refers to Jaahnavi as simply "a regular person," while adding, "Just write a cheque. Eleven thousand dollars." In the same video, he also mentions, "She was 26 anyway, she had limited value," inaccurately stating 23-year-old Jaahnavi's age.

The officer says that the conversation was one-sided and that he was mimicking how a lawyer might approach a settlement.

Now, reports accessed by The Quint shows that Auderer has been the subject of 18 investigations by the Office of Public Accountability (OPA) in Seattle since 2014. and cost the city millions in police misconduct lawsuits.

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18 Prior Internal Investigations: Sexual Harassment, Violence and More

2010: Divest SPD says that Auderer is part of a group of officers who illegally stopped two immigrants from Mexico under false pretences before harassing and violently arresting them. The encounter, was captured on camera, revealed the pair being subjected to verbal abuse and rough treatment.

Seattle defense attorney James Egan said:

“One of the officers says to this Hispanic detainee, ‘If it weren’t for my badge, I’d skull f*** you and drag you down the street’... And Officer Auderer, in listening to this, has the same kind of goofy laugh that you hear in the most recent body cam recording.”

2010: Auderer was part of a group of officers who assaulted Brian Torgerson, a mentally ill man, which courts say resulted in permanent brain damage. The Seattle Police Department (SPD) settled with Torgerson's family for $1.75 million.

Following the incident, it is reported that Torgerson was forcibly brought to the ground, subjected to two Taser discharges, and subjected to severe physical assault.

Officers, including Auderer, proceeded to restrain him by handcuffing his wrists, tying his ankles, holding him facedown and covering his face with a hood. According to the lawsuit, Torgerson suffered severe and enduring injuries, including extensive brain damage, as a direct consequence of the assault.

2014: Auderer faced a complaint from a woman he had arrested, accusing him of sexual harassment in a holding cell. The complainant alleged that he made inappropriate comments to her while she was in the precinct holding cell. Bruised her arm when she was escorted to the patrol vehicle.

Due to a lack of audio evidence, the OPA issued a training referral.

2015: Auderer was involved in an incident where he allegedly punched and choked a homeless man in the Emergency Room at a Seattle hospital. OPA documents accessed by The Quint say that when the suspect, who allegedly refused to leave the area after creating a disruption, attempted to bite Auderer, who proceeded to punch the subject five times in the side of the head.

The complaint alleged that Auderer and his partner had no justification for punching the suspect in the head five times and then take him down "with a neck hold."

"The suspect's chin appears to lift back in response to the hold, indicating that it was not a shoulder hold only. This level of force requires a clear articulation for why it was necessary," the report said.

The SPD's Force Review Board deemed the use of force unjustified, but OPA ultimately cleared him.

2016: Auderer faced an OPA investigation for using force against an African-American woman while she was handcuffed, actions prohibited by SPD policy unless under "exceptional circumstances."

Reports accessed by The Quint said that he failed to de-escalate the situation during his arrest of a female subject, when he threw her in the back of a patrol car face down.

The OPA determined that the use of force, which occurred out of view of the in-car video, was deemed "lawful and proper."

2016: A complainant alleged that Auderer did not assist a woman who was the victim of an assault because she was homeless.

They further alleged that the officer did not investigate or take her report of the assault seriously, not only because of her economic status but also because of the complainant's "ethnicity" or "immigration status." Moreover, she pointed out the suspect to Auderer, but he allegedly failed to act on it or chase the suspect.

2016: Auderer was again under investigation by OPA for allegedly punching a woman in the face, before he was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing.

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2016: Auderer received a four-day suspension for participating in an arrest while on an off-duty "ride-along" with his brother, who is an officer in another jurisdiction, and decided to serve an arrest warrant to a citizen with the help of his brother.

A report of the incident accessed by The Quint said that he "engaged in police activity while off-duty" and "executed a warrant with one of their officers, and may have used force without reporting it as required by SPD Force Reporting policies."

Moreover, the complaint said that Auderer:

"Violated additional policies by unlawfully seizing the subject absent exigent circumstances, not informing the subject they were under arrest, not advising the subject of their Miranda Rights, and not reporting the arrest to a supervisor."

2017: After chasing a suspect for a citation, Auderer alleged that his head was ground by officers into the concrete and that he was kneed in the head. OPA added additional allegations that the decision to pursue and tackle the subject may not have been consistent with the mission of the department and out of proportion to the severity of the crime and public safety issue being addressed.

2018: Auderer was reprimanded for making demeaning, unnecessary comments about a woman’s mental health during a traffic stop.

Not only did he mockingly ask her "what drugs she had used," he then told the subject that he thought she was “misleading” and told another officer that he thought the Subject was “220,” which is code for someone who is mentally ill.

Moreover, he subsequently offered the subject, what he called, “advice.” “You also need to go see your mental health professional and I think you know that," Auderer said.

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Lawmakers, Public Figures Lash Out at Seattle PD 

Seattle Lawmaker Kshama Sawant also hit out at the SPD and said, "Working people need to demand an independent, public investigation into this outrage. "

Furthermore, over 200 people from various communities rallied in Seattle, demanding justice for Kandula and the resignation of two police officers involved.

During the rally in South Lake Union, attendees united in their demand for the resignation of both Auderer and the officer involved in the collision, Kevin Dave, who denounced the existing police system, asserting that it perpetuates the criminalisation and devaluation of the lives of Black, Indigenous, and other people of colour.

Placards bore messages such as "Jail killer cops," "Justice for Jaahnavi," and "End police terror." Nearby residents from apartments also joined the gathering, swelling its numbers as the evening progressed.

Taranjit Singh Sandhu, India's ambassador to the US, raised the issue with senior officials in Washington and sought action on the "highly insensitive behaviour" displayed in Seattle.

India's Consulate General in San Francisco on Wednesday termed the handling of Kandula's death as "deeply troubling".

Indian American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi also urged the Seattle Police to approach the investigation into the tragic passing of Indian student Jaahnavi Kandula with the gravity it warrants.

"Jaahnavi Kandula's death was a terrible tragedy, and the magnitude of her loss should not be downplayed or trivialized by anyone," stated Krishnamoorthi.

Actress and producer Lily Singh reacted to the incident and posted a video on Instagram and said, "THIS IS NOT OKAY."

"To know that Jaahnavi did what only a small percentage of girls in India have the opportunity to do, which is get an education and that too abroad, but have her life taken and dismissed in this way is simply heartbreaking and unjust to the highest degree," she added.

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