Washington, DC [US], September 17 (ANI): Members of the Seattle area's South Asian community took out a march to the site where a police officer struck and killed Indian national Jaahnavi Kandula with his patrol car in January, The Seattle Times reported.
Protestors at the march held on Saturday demanded sensitivity and respect after the release this week of a body-camera video showing a police union leader laughing and joking shortly after the incident.
About 100 people gathered at Denny Park on Saturday and made their way to the intersection where Kandula was hit and killed. People while carrying out a march held signs saying "Jaahnavi had more value than SPD" and "Justice for Jaahnavi, jail killer cops," The Seattle Times reported. The rally was put together by UTSAV, an organization based in Bothell that helps connect South Asians with their communities.
Addressing the crowd, US Representative Vandana Slatter said, "We're not a monolith, the Indian community." She said, "There's diaspora in the community, but we are all united today," according to The Seattle Times report. Jaahnavi Kandula, a 23-year-old from India, was pursuing a master's degree at Northeastern University's campus in Seattle's tech-oriented South Lake Union neighbourhood. On January 23, Kandula was killed at Dexter Avenue North and Thomas Street when Officer Kevin Dave hit her while responding to an overdose call.
Video from the accident has sparked outrage over the officer's comments. Officer Daniel Auderer, vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, inadvertently left his body camera running and it showed him appearing to joke and bursting into laughter over the death of an Indian student. The Consulate General of India in San Francisco has raised concerns over the handling of an Indian-origin woman, Jaahnavi Kandula, who was killed by a police vehicle and has demanded a thorough investigation and action against those involved.
In a post shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, the Consulate General of India in San Francisco stated, "Recent reports including in media of the handling of Ms Jaahnavi Kandula's death in a road accident in Seattle in January are deeply troubling. We have taken up the matter strongly with local authorities in Seattle and Washington State as well as senior officials in Washington DC for a thorough investigation and action against those involved in this tragic case. The Consulate and Embassy will continue to closely follow up on this matter with all concerned authorities."A Seattle police watchdog agency is carrying out a probe against rank-and-file union leaders over body-camera audio in which they laugh, joke about and downplay the death of a young woman struck by a police cruiser, The Seattle Times reported. On Monday, the Seattle Police Department released footage from Officer Daniel Auderer's body camera.
A day after the incident, the police said that the officer had been responding to a "priority one call." In the footage, Auderer is driving and can be heard talking about the accident that involved 23-year-old graduate student Kandula in a call with the guild's president Mike Solan. In the video, Auderer can be heard saying "she is dead" before bursting out into laughter.
Referring to Kandula, Auderer said, "No, it's a regular person." Towards the end of the clip, he can be heard saying, through bursts of laughter, "Yeah, just write a check. Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26 anyway," misstating the age of the victim. He further said, "She had limited value," New York Post reported.
Auderer said that he did not believe a criminal investigation was being carried out. He said, "I mean, he was going 50 mph. That's not out of control. That's not reckless for a trained driver." However, a report released in June revealed that Dave was driving 74 mph in a 25-mph zone while responding to a different "high-priority" call, NBC News reported citing KIRO 7.
Auderer visited the site of the incident to carry out a drug test on Dave, New York Post reported. Timestamps on the bodycam footage revealed that he was revealing details regarding the incident in his call to another colleague the following evening.
In a statement on September 11, the Seattle Police Department said, "The following video was identified in the routine course of business by a department employee, who, concerned about the nature of statements heard on that video, appropriately escalated their concerns through their chain of command to the Chief's Office which, following a review of the video, referred the matter to OPA for investigation into the context in which those statements were made and any policy violation that might be implicated. This is what department policy and the City's Accountability Ordinance require."According to the incident footage, Dave had chirped his siren but did not have it running continuously when he hit Kandula, New York Post reported.
According to Dave's bodycam footage, he admitted he"f up," after speeding through the intersection of Dexter Avenue North and Thomas Street, where the speed limits are 20 and 25 mph. After reaching the top speed, he can be seen slowing the vehicle before hitting Kandula. He performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the student. (ANI)