Local leaders and the Indian Consulate are demanding action after a Seattle Police Department officer was recorded on his body camera laughing over the death of a young woman who was struck and killed by a police vehicle earlier this year.
The release of the body-camera footage on Monday has sparked public outrage, and some Seattle leaders have called for increased police accountability and transparency over the incident. The footage shows Officer Daniel Auderer appearing to make light of the death of 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula, calling her a “regular person” and suggests “just write a check” when discussing any possible repercussions following her death.
“Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26 anyway,” Auderer adds, misstating Kandula’s age. “She had limited value.”
Kandula was fatally struck at a crosswalk by a police cruiser that was driving at 74 mph on Jan. 23, according to Seattle police. The collision caused her to be thrown more than 100 feet and she later died from her injuries.
The footage has since drawn nationwide and international criticism. On Wednesday, the Consulate General of India in San Francisco called the handling of Kandula’s death “deeply troubling.”
The consulate said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that they have contacted state and local authorities in addition to officials in Washington, D.C., demanding a “thorough investigation” and “action against those involved in this tragic case.”
The Seattle Office of Police Accountability, a city watchdog agency, has opened an investigation into the conversation between Auderer and Solan. Both the Seattle Police Department and accountability office have declined to comment on the incident, citing the pending investigation.
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Who was Jaahnavi Kandula?
Kandula was a graduate student from the Seattle campus of Northeastern University, The Seattle Times reported. She was set to graduate this December with a master’s degree in information systems.
She was from Adoni, a southern Indian city about 200 miles north of Bangalore, according to the newspaper. Kandula had come to Seattle with hopes to one day support her mother, who lives in India.
“Her priority was to help her family,” Ashok Mandula, Kandula’s uncle, told The Seattle Times.
He added Kandula was a daughter to a single mother and that she had one sister, the newspaper reported. Her mother, who teaches at an elementary school, had taken an education loan to support Kandula’s studies.
Mandula said he and his family arranged to send Kandula’s body back to India. A GoFundMe page that was set up following Kandula’s death raised over $161,000 to help support her family.
On Wednesday, Kandula’s family said it was “truly disturbing and saddening to hear insensible comments” that were made on the body-camera footage.
“Jaahnavi is a beloved daughter and beyond any dollar value for her mother and family,” the family said in a statement. “We firmly believe that every human life is invaluable and [should] not be belittled, especially during a tragic loss.”