A new report revealed that a Seattle police officer made light of a young woman shortly after another cop struck and killed her nearly nine months ago. Newly-released body camera video from the SPD shows two officers openly talking about the fatal collision, which took the life of 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula.
According to officials, Officer Kevin A. Dave was responding "as an EMT to a Priority 1 emergency call" when he struck Kandula near Dexter Avenue North and Thomas Street on January 23. Responding officers performed life-saving measures on her before paramedics rushed her to Harborview Medical Center, where she later died from her injuries.
Det. Daniel Auderer, the vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, can be heard on bodycam video speculating that there probably won't be a criminal investigation.
"I mean, he was going 50 (MPH). That's not out of control. That's not reckless for a trained driver," Auderer told a colleague in the video. At one point, he laughs and suggests officials should "just write a check."
"Eleven thousand dollars," he remarked. "She was 26, anyway. She had limited value."
While neither of the two police officers was involved in the incident, the video has been referred to the Office of Police Accountability for investigation. Joel Merkel, the chair of the Seattle Community Police Commission, has called the footage "appalling" in a statement to KOMO.
"Just hearing someone who works at SPD say that about a human life moments after she was killed by being struck by a Seattle police vehicle is absolutely heartbreaking," Merkel said. "The community deserves a police department that shares its values and that it can trust. Incidents like this are things that break trust."
Kandula, who's originally from Bengaluru, India, was a graduate student at Northeastern University. She was set to graduate this December with a master's degree in information systems.
After releasing the video Monday (September 11), Seattle Police stated they've been in contact with the victim's family and offer their "deepest sympathy for this tragic collision."
"The following video was identified in the routine course of business by a department employee, who, concerned about the nature of statements heard on that video, appropriately escalated their concerns through their chain of command to the Chief’s Office which, following a review of the video, referred the matter to OPA for investigation into the context in which those statements were made and any policy violation that might be implicated. This is what department policy and the City’s Accountability Ordinance require.
The Accountability Ordinance is clear in seeking to preserve the integrity of OPA investigations: 'While any incident of public concern is under OPA, SPD or OIG review, no City employee should comment, either in their official or personal capacity, in a way that suggests that any factual, policy, or legal conclusions have been reached about the incident.' Recognizing the public concern around this video, SPD is putting out this video in the interest of transparency, but consistent with City law, SPD reserves any comment on the substance pending the completion of OPA’s investigation.
"SPD has been in touch with the family of the victim pedestrian and continues to honor their expressed request for privacy. As others in the accountability system proceed with their work, we again extend our deepest sympathy for this tragic collision."