Cop Who Killed Seattle Pedestrian Dodges Felony

A colleague's remark in Jaahnavi Kandula case caused outrage
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2023 1:04 PM CDT
Updated Feb 22, 2024 3:59 AM CST
UPDATE Feb 22, 2024 3:59 AM CST

Prosecutors said Wednesday they will not file felony charges against a Seattle police officer who struck and killed a pedestrian last year while responding to an overdose call—a case that attracted widespread attention after another officer was recorded making callous remarks about it. Officer Kevin Dave was driving 74mph on a street with a 25mph speed limit in a police SUV before he hit 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula, a graduate student from India, in a crosswalk. The King County prosecutor's office, noting that other pedestrians reported hearing Dave's siren, said there is "insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Ofc. Dave was consciously disregarding safety." It remains possible that city prosecutors could file lesser charges, such as negligent driving, the AP reports.

Sep 12, 2023 1:04 PM CDT

Hours after a Seattle police officer struck and killed a 23-year-old pedestrian, a colleague laughed about the woman's death, claiming her life had "limited value" so the city should "just write a check," according to body camera video released Monday. Officer Kevin Dave was responding to a reported overdose on the evening of Jan. 23 when he struck Jaahnavi Kandula in a crosswalk while driving at least 63mph in a 25mph zone, per KING5. The 23-year-old Northeastern University graduate student who'd arrived from India in 2021, was thrown more than 100 feet and died later that evening, reports the Seattle Times. Det. Daniel Auderer, a drug-recognition officer and vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, was asked to determine whether Dave was under the influence.

In the early hours of Jan. 24, Auderer, who found Dave was not impaired, called SPOG President Mike Solan to discuss the case. "He was going 50(mph). That's not out of control. That's not reckless for a trained driver," Auderer first tells Solan, who isn't heard, in the video, per KOMO. "Initially he said she was in a crosswalk. There's a witness who says, 'No, she wasn't,'" Auderer continues. "I don't think she was thrown 40 feet, either ... but she is dead," he says, before laughing. After an unheard response, Auderer adds, "Yeah, just write a check," then laughs again. "Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26, anyway. She had limited value." The Community Police Commission, an SPD oversight body, describes the video as "heartbreaking and shockingly insensitive," per the Times.

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Auderer self-reported the "private" conversation to the Office of Police Accountability after he realized his body camera was on and feared his words would be taken out of context, Jason Rantz of KTTH reported Monday. However, Police Chief Adrian Diaz said the department learned of the video from another employee who grew concerned after watching it, per the Times. Auderer claimed Solan had lamented the loss of life before referencing lawyers' efforts to minimize payments to victims and their families. With his response, "I was imitating what a lawyer tasked with negotiating the case would be saying" and "I laughed at the ridiculousness of how these incidents are litigated," Auderer claimed, per KTTH. Investigations into the video and crash continue. Dave has not been charged with a crime. (More police officers stories.)

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