The Seattle police officer who joked about the death of a graduate student who was fatally struck by a police cruiser while crossing the street defended his insensitive comments in a statement released Friday.
Officer Daniel Auderer claimed his cold laugh over the death of 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula and jokes that the city should “just write a check” were taken out of context during a private call he didn’t know was being recorded by her department. -Body camera issued.
The officer had just responded to the fatal crash on Jan. 23 and was speaking with Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan to brief him when he made the comments.
“She’s dead,” Auderer says before bursting into laughter. “No, she is a normal person,” she says, referring to Kandula.
The young woman was struck and killed by a police car driven by Officer Kevin Dave, who was allegedly going 74 mph in a 25 mph zone while responding to a different “high priority” call.
Body camera video captured the sudden death of a woman struck by a Seattle police car while crossing the street.FOX 13
Auderer, vice president of the union, told Solan that he did not believe a criminal investigation was taking place because Dave was not driving “out of control.”
At the end of the disturbing video, Auderer laughed that the city should simply pay for the devastation caused by one of its officers: “Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26 years old anyway,” she said, misstating the victim’s age. “She had limited value.”
After learning that his insensitive jokes were at the hands of the department, Auderer submitted a letter Aug. 8 to the officers’ union defending his actions and requesting an expedited investigation into employee misconduct, the union said Friday.
Officer Daniel Auderer of the Seattle Police Department appears in an undated image from a police watchdog web resource.OpenOversight
Auderer said he was responding to comments made by Solan that were not caught on camera in which he questioned what “crazy” arguments lawyers could interpret the tragedy around the value of human life.
“I responded something like, ‘She’s 26, what value is she, who cares,’” Auderer said.
“My intention was for the comment to be a mockery of lawyers; I was imitating what a lawyer in charge of negotiating the case would say and being sarcastic in saying that they shouldn’t come up with crazy arguments to minimize the payment.”
Auderer claimed his laughter was directed at the ridiculousness of how incidents are litigated before noting that he didn’t realize their private conversation was being recorded.
“I understand that without context the comment could be interpreted as horrifying and crude. “Without context the comment is insensitive to the victim’s family when in reality I was involved in a conversation about the insensitivity of the legal system,” he said.
The officers’ union backed Auderer’s claims of innocence, stating that the existing video that gained viral status immediately after its release does not “explain the full story/context.”
Protesters came out en masse to call for Officer Daniel Auderer to be fired for laughing at Kandula’s death.USA Today
The union applauded Auderer for releasing the footage a month before it was made public, adding that more details about the incident would be released soon.
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The footage was released by the Seattle Police Department “in the interest of transparency” a day after the deadly collision was also uploaded to the Seattle Police Department’s YouTube page.
Kandula’s family said Wednesday that it was “really disturbing and sad to hear insensitive comments” made on the body camera footage.
The exchange student had come to Northeastern University in Seattle from India to pursue a master’s degree in scientific information systems in the College of Engineering. He was due to graduate in December.
“Jaahnavi is a beloved daughter and is beyond dollar value to her mother and family,” the family said in a statement. “We firmly believe that every human life is invaluable and [should] “Not to be belittled, especially during a tragic loss.”
The Consulate General of India in San Francisco called the handling of Kandula’s death “deeply worrying.”
“We have aggressively pursued the matter with local authorities in Seattle and the state of Washington, as well as senior officials in Washington, DC, for a thorough investigation and action against those involved in this tragic case.” the consulate said theformerly known as Twitter.
The fatal collision is being investigated by the Seattle Office of Police Accountability and the King County Prosecutor’s Office is conducting a criminal review of the incident.