NEW YORK: An officer from Seattle Police Department has been under investigation after a newly-released bodycam footage showed him laughing and joking on a phone call about an Indian student who was hit and killed by a patrol car driven by a fellow cop.
Jaahnavi Kandula, a 23-year-old student of Northeastern University campus in South Lake Union, was walking near Dexter Avenue North and Thomas Street when she was hit by a Seattle Police vehicle driven by Kevin Dave on January 23.
In the brief clip, Seattle Police Officers’ Guild Vice President Daniel Auderer is seen driving and can be heard saying, “she had limited value”, in a call with the guild’s president, Mike Solan, KIRO 7 news channel reported on Wednesday.
Shortly after saying “she’s dead”, Auderer laughs and says “it’s a regular person”, referring to Kandula.
He then says “just write a check — $11,000, she was 26 anyway, she had limited value”.
Auderer also mentions that Dave was “going 50 (miles an hour)”, stating how “that’s not out of control” for a trained driver.
A police investigation released in June found that Dave was actually travelling at 74 miles an hour in a 25 mile an hour zone while responding to a different call when Kandula was hit and thrown more than 100 feet.
The SPD said in a statement released on Monday that the video of Auderer’s call “was identified in the routine course of business by a department employee”, and was escalated to Chief Adrian Diaz.
Following the chain of command, the employee then escalated it to the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) for a review, the statement added.
Stating that it released the video “in the interest of transparency”, the SPD said it will not comment further on the video until the OPA completes its investigation.
“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,” the SPD statement read.
“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,” the statement added.
Dave, was responding to a “high priority” call on the day of the incident at 8 p.m. as he plowed into Kandula.
“I f***ed up,” Dave was heard saying after the accident in a bodycam footage at the intersection where he accelerated up to 74 miles per hour at one point, much higher than the prescribed limits of 25 and 20 mph respectively.
Kandula first travelled to the US in 2021 from Adoni in Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool district.
Her uncle, Ashok Mandula, who lives in Texas, told the Seattle Times: “The family has nothing to say… Except I wonder if these men’s daughters or granddaughters have value. A life is a life.”