SEATTLE - Authorities are investigating after shocking body cam video showed how one Seattle Police officer reacted to the death of a woman hit and killed by a patrol car during an emergency response.
Seattle Police on Monday released body cam video from officer Daniel Auderer—who is also the Vice President of the Seattle Police Officers Guild—in which he is heard insulting, joking and laughing about 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula, who was struck in a crosswalk while police were responding to an overdose in the area.
"There is initially—he said she was in a crosswalk, there is a witness that said, 'No she wasn’t,' but that could be different, because I don’t think she was thrown 40 feet, either," Auderer says in the video, as confirmed by Seattle Police.
Kandula was the Northeastern University student who was killed Jan. 23, 2023. She was hit by a Seattle Police car at the intersection of Dexter Ave N and Thomas St in the South Lake Union neighborhood.
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Seattle Police said the officer driving the patrol vehicle was responding to a priority-one call when the incident happened. The officer was going 74mph in a 25mph speed zone.
SPD released a statement online that says, in part:
"The following video was identified in the routine course of business by a department employee, who, concerned about the nature of statements heard on that video, appropriately escalated their concerns through their chain of command to the Chief’s Office which, following a review of the video, referred the matter to OPA for investigation into the context in which those statements were made and any policy violation that might be implicated. This is what department policy and the City’s Accountability Ordinance require."
"She is dead," Auderer says, then laughs. "No, it’s a regular person—yeah, yeah, just write a check, just, yeah," he laughs again, "$11,000. She was 26 anyway, she had limited value."
SPD further stated:
"While any incident of public concern is under OPA, SPD or OIG review, 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 Office of Police Accountability is investigating. On Sept. 13, the office released this statement:
"On August 2, 2023, OPA learned about an SPD officer's comments concerning Jaahnavi Kandula's tragic death. OPA immediately opened an investigation. The case number is 2023OPA-0336, and its progress can be tracked on OPA's website under "Complaints" and "Check Complaint Status."
"OPA has until January 29, 2024, to complete its investigation and issue findings. OPA will not make public statements about the case until its conclusion to maintain and protect the investigation's integrity. OPA appreciates and understands the heightened public interest but is committed to a thorough and uncompromised process."
The Kandula family said they were disturbed and saddened by the comments heard on body cam video.
"It's truly disturbing and saddening to hear comments on the body cam video regarding Jaahnavi's death from an SPD officer.
Jaahnavi is a beloved daughter and beyond any dollar value for her mother & family. We firmly believe that every human life is invaluable and should not be belittled, especially during a tragic loss."