Published: 14th September 2023
Consulate demands justice for US cops joking about Indian student's death
Jaahnavi Kandula was hit by an overspeeding police driven car in January and tragically lost her life
The death of an Indian national Jaahnavi Kandula has been "strongly" taken up by India with authorities in the United States (US) after the release of a bodycam footage, in which, a US cop can be heard joking and laughing about the Indian student's death by a police patrol car this year, as per an IANS report.
The Consulate General of India in San Francisco condemned the act and termed the apathetic behaviour as "deeply troubling".
The consulate said in a post on X (formerly Twitter) that they have taken up the matter strongly with the local authorities both from Seattle and Washington State as well as senior officials in Washington DC and have demanded a thorough investigation into the incident and strict action against the people who are involved in the tragic case.
What was the clip about?
According to a report by The Seattle Times, the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild Vice-President Daniel Auderer, is seen driving and can be heard saying, “she had limited value”, in a call with the guild’s president, Mike Solan.
The 23-year-old was a student at the Northeastern University campus in South Lake Union. On January 23, Kandula was walking near Dexter Avenue North and Thomas Street when she was hit by a Seattle Police vehicle driven by Kevin Dave.
The officer, Auderer, was assigned to investigate the matter and check if Dave was under any influence, inadvertently left his body camera on, in which he was heard laughing and saying that Kandula’s life had “limited value” and the city should “just write a check”.
“Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26 anyway,” Auderer said, adding Dave was “going 50 (miles an hour)”, stating how “that’s not out of control” for a trained driver.
Officer at fault
After an investigation in June, the report released showed that Dave was actually driving at 74 miles an hour in a 25-mile-an-hour zone while responding to a different call when Kandula was hit and thrown more than 100 feet.
The Seattle Police Department (SPD) on Monday, September 11, said in a statement that the video of Auderer’s call “was identified in the routine course of business by a department employee”, and was escalated to Chief Adrian Diaz.
What the police has to say
The SPD also said that the video was released "in the interest of transparency", and will not further comment on the situation unless the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) completes its review of the incident.
A statement released by the SPD read, "No City employee should comment, either in their official or personal capacity, in a way that suggests that any factual, policy, or legal conclusions have been reached about the incident."
It further added that SPD has been in touch with the family of the victim pedestrian and continues to honour their expressed request for privacy, and also expressed their deepest sympathies.