On Monday (Sept. 11), the Seattle Police Department (SPD) released body camera footage related to an ongoing investigation by the Office of Police Accountability (OPA). They’re looking into the actions of a cop on Sunday, Jan. 29 after a young woman, 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula, died from injuries sustained due to a collision with a police cruiser. During a phone call between Detective Daniel Auderer and Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan, Auderer’s bodycam recorded him reportedly laughing about Kandula’s death and remarking about her worth in terms of monetary value, AP reports.
Auderer told Solan, “But she is dead” and then laughed loudly. Later, he commented, with no context from Solan, “No. It’s a regular person… Yeah. Just write a check. Just, yeah (laughter)… $11,000. She was 26 anyway. She had limited value.”
At the time of the collision, Kandula — a graduate student from Bengaluru, India studying to achieve a Master of Science in Information Systems at Northeastern University-Seattle’s College of Engineering — had a little less than a year left before her December 2023 graduation.
The OPA considers the investigation into Auderer’s comments “classified.” One media outlet, KTTH-AM, published statements supposedly filed by Auderer with the OPA in which he claimed that the bodycam footage takes his one-sided comments out of context. He supposedly made the remarks while pretending to speak as lawyers who might attempt to “minimize liability” for the accident and laughing at how litigation downplays tragedy.
The collision occurred after Officer Kevin Dave accidentally struck Kandula while driving 74 mph in a 25 mph zone during a drug overdose “priority one” request from the Seattle Fire Department. Dave had his emergency lights on but only briefly chirped his siren when entering the intersection. A medical examiner determined that Kandula died of multiple blunt force injuries.
Joel Merkel with the Seattle Community Police Commission (CPC) told KOMO News, “The video was appalling, and it was heartbreaking and incredibly insensitive. 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.”
The video came to light after a department employee escalated their concerns to the chief’s office for OPA review. The investigation was opened in early August, shortly after an email from an SPD attorney was received. Kandula’s uncle, Ashok Mandula, commented, “I wonder if these men’s daughters or granddaughters have value? A life is a life.”
A criminal investigation into the collision is also underway by the office of the King County prosecuting attorney.
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