Video Producer: Meenakshy Sasikumar
Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma
A probe has been initiated against a Seattle cop who was caught on a body-camera audio in which he is heard mocking the death of 23-year-old Indian-origin student Jaahnavi Kandula. Jaahnavi was struck and killed by a police cruiser as she was crossing a street in January this year.
The recording of the bodycam was released on Monday, 11 September, by the Seattle police department.
Officer Daniel Auderer, vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, accidentally left his body camera running as he called guild President Mike Solan to report what happened, when another officer, Kevin Dave, struck and killed Kandula, The Seattle Times reported.
In the video, officer Daniel Auderer can be heard joking that the student, Jaahnavi Kandula, had "limited value" and the city should "just write a cheque."
"She is dead," Auderer says before he burst out laughing. "No, it's a regular person," he says, referring to Kandula, according to New York Post.
"Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26 anyway," Daniel Auderer was heard mentioning the student's age inaccurately.
Auderer acknowledged his role in the investigation as an impairment recognition officer but said the conversation was "private" and meant to be part of his duties as a SPOG representative, according to what Jason Rantz, a conservative KTTH talk show host, described as a self-reported complaint to Seattle's Office of Police Accountability.
Auderer said Solan had lamented the death. He further claimed that his comments were "intended to mimic" how the city"s attorneys might try to minimise the liability for Kandula's death.
"I laughed at the ridiculousness of how these incidents are litigated and the ridiculousness of how I watched these incidents play out as two parties bargain over a tragedy."
Daniel also said that anyone listening to only his side of the conversation alone "would rightfully believe I was being insensitive to the loss of human life." He added that the comment was "not made with malice or a hard heart," but "quite the opposite."
The Community Police Commission, another SPD oversight body, characterised the body-camera audio as "heartbreaking and shockingly insensitive," saying it "speaks to the concerns that the [CPC] has repeatedly raised about elements of Seattle Police Department culture and SPOG resistance to officer accountability measures."
Who Was Jaahnavi Kandula
Jaahnavi was from Adoni, a city in Andhra Pradesh's Kurnool district and is the daughter of a single mother working as a schoolteacher. She also had a sister, who lived with her mother.
Her mother had taken a financial loan to make sure that Kandula could travel to the United States to earn her graduate degree. The 23-year-old graduated from the Dr Jyothirmayi Degree College in Andhra Pradesh after completing her Bachelor in Commerce and was perusing a Masters of Science when the incident occurred.
In a message to students of the university, David Thurman, dean of Northeastern's Seattle Campus, remembered Jaahnavi as a "stellar student and a delightful and effervescent human being," whose death will be felt "deeply by students, staff, and faculty across campus."
As per the reports, Officer Kevin Dave was driving his car at 119 Kmph (74 MPH) on 23 January 2023, while responding to an overdose call. On his way to the scene, he hit Kandula, who was crossing the road. Daniel Auderer, a drug recognition expert, was assigned to the case to evaluate if Dave was impaired. Following the accident, Auderer called the Guild president, Mike Solan, to inform him what happened.
Initially, Auderer reported the officer was driving his car at 50 Mph and was not "out of control." However, later, the police investigation found that the car was at 74 Mph when it hit Kandula. She was thrown over 100 feet away.