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Jaahnavi Kandula’s death: Comments taken out of context, says Seattle Police officer; online petition seeks his termination

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WASHINGTON, Sept 16: The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild has defended the callous remarks of its
official, who was found making insensitive comments after the horrific death of Indian student
Jaahnavi Kandula, saying some viral videos of police actions shared by media were taken out of
context.
Kandula, 23, was struck by a police vehicle driven by Officer Kevin Dave when she was crossing a
street in Seattle on January 23. He was driving 74 mph (more than 119 kmh) on the way to a report
of a drug overdose call. Kandula was thrown 100 feet when she was struck by the speeding police
patrol vehicle.
In bodycam footage released on Monday by the Seattle Police Department, Officer Daniel Auderer
laughed about the deadly crash and dismissed any implication Dave might be at fault or that a
criminal investigation was necessary.
In the video, Auderer can be heard saying, ”Yeah, just write a cheque. USD 11,000. She was 26
anyway, she had limited value.”

”The video captures only one side of the conversation. There is much more detail and nuance that
has not been made public yet…,” the Seattle Police Officers Guild said in a statement on Friday as it
also released a letter written by its officer Auderer in which the latter said that he intended the
comment as a mockery of lawyers.
Officer Auderer claimed his joke that the city should “just write a check” was taken out of context
during a private call he didn’t know was being recorded by his department-issued body camera.
In the letter dated August 3 to the Office of Police Accountability, Auderer said he laughed at the
ridiculousness of how these incidents are litigated and the ridiculousness of how he has watched
these incidents play out as two parties bargain over a tragedy.
”At the time I believed the conversation was private and not being recorded. The conversation was
also not within the course of my duties,” he wrote in his letter to Gino Betts, director Office of Police
Accountability.
”On January 23, 2023, I was dispatched from home to assist with a fatality collision involving a city
vehicle,” he said.
”While en route home I called Mike Solan to give him an update regarding what had occurred. The
phone call was inadvertently recorded on my BWV which had turned on. The conversation took
place in my patrol car. I was the only occupant. During that phone call Mike Solan stated something
to the effect that it was unfortunate that this would turn into lawyers arguing,” The value of human
life’s he wrote.
"Mike Solan asked me as he was lamenting the loss of life something similar to: What crazy
argument can a lawyer make in something like this? What crazy thing can they come up with. I
responded with something like: She’s 26 years old, what value is there, who cares. I intended the
comment as a mockery of lawyers – I was imitating what a lawyer tasked with negotiating the case
would be saying and being sarcastic to express that they shouldn’t be coming up with crazy
arguments to minimise the payment," Auderer wrote.
”I laughed at the ridiculousness of how these incidents are litigated and the ridiculousness of how I
have watched these incidents play out as two parties bargain over a tragedy. At the time I believed
the conversation was private and not being recorded. The conversation was also not within the
course of my duties,” he said.
”I understand that without context, the comment could be interpreted as horrifying and crude.
Without context, the comment is insensitive to the family of the victim when in reality I was involved
in a conversation regarding the callousness of the legal system. At the time I had no idea who the
victim was,” he wrote.
Auderer said he does understand that if a citizen were to hear it they would rightfully believe he was
being insensitive to the loss of a human life.

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”I also understand that if heard it could diminish the trust in the Seattle Police Department and make all of our jobs more difficult. With all of that being said the comment was not made with malice or a hard heart, quite the opposite.
My intent in requesting rapid adjudication is to be as transparent as possible. I am willing to accept
any reasonable discipline our accountability partners and the Chief of Police wish to hand down,” he
said.
The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild in its statement said some viral videos of police actions shared by
the media fail to explain the full story/context.
"This Seattle Police video is an example of that reality. The video captures only one side of the
conversation. There is much more detail and nuance that has not been made public yet… SPOG has
full confidence that the civilian-led police accountability system known as the Office of Police
Accountability / OPA will conduct a thorough and fair investigation," the guild wrote.
Upon being made aware of the existence of this video, Auderer immediately took ownership of his
actions and authored a statement requesting that the Director of OPA (Gino Betts) consider the
course of "Rapid Adjudication", the statement read.
"Rapid Adjudication is a disciplinary process that was agreed to by the City of Seattle and the SPOG
to expedite police employee misconduct investigations so accountability can be swiftly addressed,
and reasonable discipline imposed. This was done by Dan more than 4 weeks before the release of
the video," the guild said.
Meanwhile, an online petition has been launched and signed by thousands of people seeking to
terminate Auderer.
"By allowing Auderer to remain in a position where he interacts with the public, we are putting our
community at risk. His actions have shown that he does not prioritize public safety nor respect the
rights and dignity of individuals under his jurisdiction," said the online petition on Change.org.
Auderer was captured on his body camera making a disturbing statement in the moments following
the accident, suggesting that Jaahnavi’s life had "limited value. ”When the bodycam footage was
leaked this week, several petitions were started on Change.org demanding accountability.
”We call upon Mayor Jenny Durkan, City Council members, and other relevant authorities to
prioritize the well-being of our community by addressing these issues promptly. We want justice.
Jaahnavi is our daughter, our sister,” said Nishtha Raheja Goel who launched the online petition. By
Friday night, the petition had more than 6,700 signatures.
The petitioners urge the authorities responsible for overseeing law enforcement personnel decisions
in Seattle to immediately terminate Auderer from his position, conduct thorough background checks
during recruitment processes, implement stricter accountability measures within law enforcement
agencies and provide comprehensive training on empathy, cultural sensitivity, and appropriate
behaviour towards victims and their families.
"By taking these actions, we can restore trust in our police force and ensure the safety of all
residents in Seattle. Let us stand united against those who abuse their power and demand justice for
Jaahnavi Kandula and all victims who have suffered due to Daniel Auderer’s actions,” the petition
says.
Seattle Council member Kshama Sawant in a statement called for an immediate, independent, public
investigation into this outrage.
”Auderer, who is the Vice President of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG), a deeply reactionary
organization which has fought against every measure of police accountability, should be
immediately fired. Mike Solan, the President of SPOG, should also be fired from the Seattle Police
Department,” she said.
The OPA has failed to hold police accountable, and our city’s working people need an independently
elected community oversight with full powers over the police, including hiring and firing, and policies
and procedures.
”Seattle Police Officer Auderer cackled in response to the death of Kandula, a young Indian exchange
student after she was run over by Officer Dave’s police vehicle, saying her life ”had limited value.

Auderer’s callous disregard for human life shown in this video is particularly chilling because he has a
publicly funded gun with the authority to use lethal force,” Sawant said. (PTI)

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