Bodycam Reveals Cop Joked That Woman Killed by Police Had ‘Limited Value’

“Yeah, just write a check,” the Seattle officer and union leader said of his colleague who ran over a student. He now claims he was just making fun of lawyers.

Bodycam Reveals Cop Joked That Woman Killed by Police Had ‘Limited Value’
Photo:The Seattle Times (AP)

Newly released body camera footage shows a Seattle cop—who’s a leader in the local police union—making shockingly flippant comments about a South Asian woman killed by one of his colleagues earlier this year, saying the woman, 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula, had “limited value.” He’s since defended the comments by saying he was misunderstood and was only trying to make a joke about lawyers.

Kandula, a graduate student at Seattle’s Northeastern University, was killed in January when another officer responding to an overdose call in the South Lake Union neighborhood drove into her as she walked on a crosswalk. The Seattle Times reported that the officer, Kevin Dave, had been driving at 74 mph and that Kandula was thrown more than 100 feet. One witness said Dave hit his brakes just one second before hitting Kandula, while another described how the hood of Dave’s car crumpled at the severity of the impact. Local investigators determined that if Dave had been driving just 50 mph—and not 74—the collision wouldn’t have happened. Daniel Auderer, a drug recognition expert and vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, according to the Seattle Times, had been sent to the scene to determine whether Dave was under the influence of anything.

But in body camera footage released to the public on Monday, Auderer can be heard saying to guild president Mike Solan that Dave was only “going 50” and “that’s not out of control.” Auderer further says he doesn’t believe Kandula “was thrown 40 feet.”

Auderer’s recorded remarks somehow grow even more dismissive. He refers to Kandula as just “a regular person” while laughing, and continues to shrug off the value of her life: “Yeah, just write a check,” he tells Solan. “Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26 anyway. She had limited value.” (Kandula was 23.) It’s not clear what Auderer means here, but any innuendo or supposedly deeper meaning behind his words is pretty irrelevant.

On Tuesday, local radio station KTTH shared a statement by Auderer given to the city’s Office of Police Accountability that the station managed to obtain. “I intended the comment as a mockery of lawyers. 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,” he said. In the statement, Auderer concedes that anyone hearing it without this context “would rightfully believe I was being insensitive to the loss of human life,” and that his comments were “not made with malice or a hard heart” but “quite the opposite.”

The body camera footage of Auderer’s conversation with Solan was released after, according to a statement from the Seattle Police Department, an employee obtained and listened to the audio “in the routine course of business.” The unnamed employee was “concerned about the nature of [Auderer’s] statements” and directed the audio to the chief’s office, which then sent the audio to the Office of Police Accountability. Katie Maier, the assistant director of operations at the Office of Police Accountability, confirmed to NBC that her office received the complaint about Auderer’s comments on Aug. 2 and an investigation is underway.

The Seattle Community Police Commission, a local oversight group, characterized Auderer’s comments as “heartbreaking and shockingly insensitive” in a statement earlier this week. Kandula’s family issued an even more heartbreaking response: Speaking to The Seattle Times, Ashok Mandula said his family had “nothing to say,” then added, “Except I wonder if these men’s daughters or granddaughters have value. A life is a life.”

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin