Seattle police union responds to outrage over officer who says woman hit by police ‘had limited value’

By | September 16, 2023

The Seattle Police Officers Guild said Friday that there are “much more detail and nuance” in bodycam footage released this week that captures one of its leaders saying the life of a woman killed by another officer “had limited value ”.

In body camera footage released Monday by the Seattle Police Department, Officer Daniel Auderer, vice president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild, laughs and suggests that the city should “just write a check” after a marked patrol vehicle drove by Officer Kevin Dave struck and killed Jaahnavi Kandula in a crosswalk on January 23. Dave was driving 74 mph on the way to a “priority call” when he hit Kandula, 23, and Auderer was tasked with assessing whether Dave was impaired, according to a police investigation report.

“Eleven thousand dollars. He was 26 anyway,” Auderer’s body camera captured him saying in a call to the guild’s president, Mike Solan, incorrectly stating Kandula’s age. “He had limited value.”

The recording did not capture Solan’s remarks.

Auderer’s comments sparked outrage in Seattle, where some residents protested Thursday night to demand justice for Kandula.

“The Seattle Police Officers Guild understands the attention and outrage surrounding the viral video capturing highly insensitive comments regarding the death of Jaahnavi Kandula by Officer Dan Auderer,” the guild said in a statement. declaration. “Without context, this audio is horrific and has no place in civil society. This tarnishes the profession of law enforcement, the reputation of all Seattle police officers, and paints Seattle in a terrible light. We feel deep sorrow and sorrow for Jaahnavi Kandula’s family as this video has re-victimized them in an already tragic situation as they continue to mourn his death. We are truly sorry.”

A vigil for Jaahnavi Kandula, the 23-year-old woman who was struck and killed by a marked Seattle Police Department vehicle.  (KING)

A vigil for Jaahnavi Kandula, the 23-year-old woman who was struck and killed by a marked Seattle Police Department vehicle. (KING)

In addition to its statement, the guild released a statement that Auderer reportedly wrote to the director of the Office of Police Accountability in August — more than six months after Kandula’s killing — after he was told of the video’s existence. The guild said it wrote the statement “directly from memory and without the ability to watch the video.”

In it, Auderer said his comments were “sarcastic” and intended to mimic the way a lawyer tasked with negotiating a settlement over Kandula’s death might try to downplay responsibility for it.

“Mike Solan asked me while lamenting the loss of life something like, ‘What crazy reasoning can a lawyer do in something like this? What crazy thing can they come up with?’ I responded with something like: “he’s 26, what’s his value, who cares”. I intended the comment as a mockery of the lawyers: I was imitating what a lawyer in charge of negotiating the case would say and was being sarcastic to express that they shouldn’t make up crazy arguments to minimize the payment,” he wrote in the statement.” I laughed at the ridiculousness of how these incidents are discussed and the ridiculousness of how I watched them unfold as two sides haggled over a tragedy. At the time I believed the conversation was private and not being recorded.”

He said he knew the comment without context could be “interpreted as horrible and crude,” but said it was “not made with malice or a hard heart, on the contrary.”

He also called for a “swift adjudication” of his case and said he was willing “to accept any reasonable discipline that our accountability partners and the police chief wish to mete out.”

Auderer, Solan and the guild did not respond to repeated requests for comment from NBC News this week.

Kandula’s family previously told NBC News, “We firmly believe that every human life is invaluable and should not be diminished, especially during a tragic loss.”

In a statement Monday, the Seattle Police Department said it learned of the conversation from an employee who overheard it “in the ordinary course of business.” That employee was “concerned about the nature of the statements” and took his concerns up the chain of command to the boss’s office.

Chief Adrian Diaz’s office referred the matter to the accountability office, as department policy and the city’s accountability ordinance require, the statement said.

The police department said the accountability office, which investigates police misconduct and recommends discipline to the police chief, is investigating “the context in which” the statements were made and whether any policies were violated.

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