Seattle officer recorded joking about an Indian woman killed by a police car
An ongoing investigation is examining bodycam footage that appears to depict a Seattle police officer making callous remarks about a woman who tragically lost her life after being struck by a patrol car.
Officer Daniel Auderer was responding to an incident in which Jaahnavi Kandula, a 23-year-old graduate student, lost her life near her university.
In the video, the officer can be heard making insensitive comments, suggesting that the life of the Indian student had little worth and that the city should simply provide compensation. Officer Auderer has asserted that his comments were taken out of context.
Ms. Kandula, a graduate student at Northeastern University, was struck and killed by a police car while crossing the street on January 23rd.
According to a police investigation report cited by The Seattle Times, the officer driving the car was traveling at a speed of 74 mph (119 km/h), and the graduate student’s body was thrown more than 100 feet (30 meters).
Officer Auderer was dispatched to the incident, during which his body camera recorded audio from a call he made to a colleague. In the recording, he can be heard saying, “But she is dead,” followed by laughter, and then stating, “No, it’s a regular person.
Yeah, just write a cheque,” with further laughter. He added, “Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26, anyway. She had limited value.”
It’s worth noting that Mr. Auderer is not only an officer but also a leader within the Seattle Police Department union. He was conversing with Mike Solan, the guild’s president, during the call, but the audio from Mr. Solan is not audible.
The Seattle Police Department released a statement on Monday, revealing that the conversation came to light when an employee, as part of their regular duties, listened to it.
This employee expressed concern about the nature of the statements and escalated the matter up the chain of command, as stated in the police department’s release.
Officials then handed the matter over to the Office of Police Accountability, the agency that investigates police misconduct.
The agency is looking into “the context in which” the statements were made and whether any policies had been violated, the Seattle Police Department has said.
A conservative talk radio host on KTTH-AM, Jason Rantz, reported that he had obtained a written statement from Mr. Auderer saying his comments were meant to mimic how city attorneys might try to minimize liability for the woman’s death.
“I laughed at the ridiculousness of how these incidents are litigated,” Mr Auderer wrote, according to KTTH radio.
The Seattle Community Police Commission, another oversight agency, described the body-camera footage as “heartbreaking and shockingly insensitive”.
Victoria Beach, the chair of the African American Community Advisory Council, told local news she “was shocked, had many emotions” and was “sickened about it”.
“I was very disturbed that somebody could laugh about somebody that died,” she said.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is conducting a criminal review of the crash.