An investigation is underway after a Seattle Police Department officer was heard laughing and making questionable comments over the death of a woman who was fatally struck by another police officer earlier this year.
Background: The deceased, identified as 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula, was in a crosswalk near Dexter Avenue North and Thomas Street when a speeding police car hit her at around 8 p.m. on Jan. 23. The driver, later identified as Kevin Dave, was reportedly responding to a “high-priority” call when he struck Kandula.
Daniel Auderer, vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, responded to the scene with Mike Solan, the guild’s president. On Monday, the SPD released footage from Auderer’s bodycam, which contained controversial recordings that are now under investigation.
What’s in the recording: In the footage, Auderer can be heard suggesting that the officer involved in the collision was “going 50” and that it was “not reckless for a trained driver.” He also doubted that the victim was thrown 40 feet. However, subsequent reports noted that the officer was driving 74 in a 25 mile-per-hour zone, throwing Kandula at least 100 feet.
Shortly after, Auderer said “she is dead,” followed by laughter. He then said, “It’s a regular person,” and advised to “just write a check.” He laughed once again before apparently making an inaccurate statement on Kandula’s age, saying, “Eleven-thousand dollars. She was 26 anyway. She had limited value.”
Reporting the footage: An employee “in the routine course of business” saw the bodycam footage and “appropriately escalated their concerns” through their chain of command to the police chief’s office, the SPD said on Monday. After reviewing the video, the chief’s office, per department policy and city ordinance, referred it to the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) — a city oversight agency — for investigation.
What Auderer is reportedly saying: Jason Rantz, a radio host on KTTH-AM, reported that he obtained a written statement that Auderer had provided to the OPA. In it, Auderer claimed that he was trying to mimic what a lawyer negotiating the case would say and that he was “being sarcastic to express that they shouldn’t be coming up with crazy arguments to minimize the payment.”
“I intended the comment as a mockery of lawyers,” Auderer wrote, as per KTTH. “I laughed at the ridiculousness of how these incidents are litigated and the ridiculousness of how I watched these incidents play out as two parties bargain over a tragedy.”
Auderer also reportedly acknowledged that anyone listening to his side alone “would rightfully believe I was being insensitive to the loss of human life.” KTTH said he reported himself to the OPA, but it is unclear when exactly he did so.