Seattle Police Video Captures ‘Disturbing’ Comments About Pedestrian’s Death

The vice chairman of Seattle’s police union inadvertently recorded himself saying that the lifetime of a lady who had simply been struck and killed by a police automobile had “limited value,” prompting widespread outrage and an investigation by a police watchdog company.

Last week, the Seattle Police Department launched physique digital camera footage of the union official, Daniel Auderer, laughing as he discusses the demise of Jaahnavi Kandula, 23, quickly after she was struck by a rushing police S.U.V. pushed by one other Seattle officer on Jan. 23.

In the video, Officer Auderer, the vice chairman of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, is driving his police cruiser, speaking on the cellphone to a different particular person, who was recognized by the guild because the union’s president, Mike Solan. Officer Solan’s voice can’t be heard within the video.

“She is dead,” Officer Auderer tells Officer Solan, after which bursts out laughing after a pause. “No, it’s a regular person,” Officer Auderer says, including: “Yeah, just write a check — $11,000. She was 26, anyway. She had limited value.”

Officer Auderer later mentioned in a letter to the Seattle Office of Police Accountability that he had solely been mocking attorneys who change into concerned in negotiations over such circumstances. But his feedback have touched off indignation in Seattle and India, the place Ms. Kandula, who was a graduate pupil at Northeastern University’s Seattle campus, was born.

“It is truly disturbing and saddening to hear insensible comments on the bodycam video from an S.P.D. officer regarding Jaahnavi’s death,” Ms. Kandula’s household mentioned in an announcement. “Jaahnavi is a beloved daughter and beyond any dollar value for her mother and family.”

The launch of the video led to a number of protests, together with one final weekend when about 100 individuals, many from Seattle’s South Asian group, marched to the intersection within the South Lake Union neighborhood the place Ms. Kandula was struck, The Seattle Times reported.

The Consulate General of India in San Francisco additionally raised considerations, writing on X, the social media platform previously often known as Twitter, that the dealing with of Ms. Kandula’s demise was “deeply troubling.”

“We have taken up the matter strongly with local authorities in Seattle & Washington State as well as senior officials in Washington DC,” the consulate wrote, including that it was looking for “a thorough investigation & action against those involved in this tragic case.”

The Office of Police Accountability mentioned in an announcement that it opened an investigation into Officer Auderer’s feedback instantly after it realized about them on Aug. 2. The workplace mentioned it could not remark additional till the investigation was completed. It has till Jan. 29 to launch findings.

Seattle residents have expressed anger that no costs have been filed in opposition to Officer Kevin A. Dave, who was driving the police S.U.V. that struck Ms. Kandula. He was responding to a “Priority 1 emergency call” and was “clearing intersections with his siren” and emergency lights when he crashed into Ms. Kandula in a crosswalk at about 8 p.m., the police have mentioned.

A police report on the crash, reported by The Seattle Times, PubliCola and different news shops, mentioned Officer Dave had been responding to an overdose name and driving 74 miles per hour in a 25-m.p.h. zone when he struck Ms. Kandula. She was in essential situation when she was taken to a hospital, the place she died, the police mentioned.

Officer Auderer responded to the crash scene to judge Officer Dave for indicators of impairment and located none, the report mentioned.

The Police Department launched the video of Officer Auderer speaking about Ms. Kandula’s demise on Sept. 11. It mentioned {that a} division worker had recognized the video “in the routine course of business” and had escalated the matter via the chain of command.

The chief’s workplace then reviewed the video and referred it to the Office of Police Accountability, which investigates complaints of police misconduct. The division mentioned it couldn’t touch upon the video till the workplace had accomplished its investigation.

“As others in the accountability system proceed with their work, we again extend our deepest sympathy for this tragic collision,” the division mentioned.

In a letter to the director of the accountability workplace that was dated Aug. 8 and launched final week by the police union, Officer Auderer mentioned he had referred to as Officer Solan on his drive house to replace him on the crash. During that decision, Officer Solan “stated something to the effect that it was unfortunate that this would turn into lawyers arguing ‘the value of human life,’” Officer Auderer wrote.

Officer Auderer mentioned he had responded with the feedback heard within the video in regards to the “limited value” of Ms. Kandula’s life.

“I intended the comment as a mockery of lawyers,” Officer Auderer wrote. “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 minimize the payment. 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.”

The Seattle Police Officers Guild mentioned in an announcement that Officer Auderer’s feedback have been “highly insensitive” and had “revictimized” Ms. Kandula’s household. But the video lacked context, the union mentioned.

“There is much more detail and nuance that has not been made public yet,” the guild mentioned. It added that Officer Auderer had requested the Office of Police Accountability to research the matter swiftly, 4 weeks earlier than the video was launched.

Joel Merkel, a co-chairman of the Seattle Community Police Commission, a panel that seeks to signify group views on the police, mentioned the feedback within the video minimized the worth of Ms. Kandula’s life and the necessity for accountability within the deadly crash.

“There is no context in which these comments and sentiments are acceptable,” Mr. Merkel mentioned in an interview. “And it’s especially alarming that it’s leadership within the police union that harbors these sentiments.”

Susan C. Beachy contributed analysis.

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