Seattle police officer heard on bodycam joking after grad student was fatally hit by cop cruiser is reassigned

The Seattle police officer and union leader under investigation for laughing and making callous remarks after another officer’s patrol vehicle fatally struck Jaahnavi Kandula, a 23-year-old graduate student, in January has been taken off patrol duty, weeks after body camera footage of his comments was released.

The Seattle Police Department said Thursday that Officer Daniel Auderer, vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, has been “administratively re-assigned to a non-operational position.” The department did not say when the change was initiated.

On Sept. 11, the police department released footage from Auderer’s body camera that captured him making insensitive remarks about Kandula, who was struck and killed by another officer’s patrol vehicle Jan. 23. Auderer called Kandula, who had been in a crosswalk when she was hit, a “regular person” and appeared to joke about the value of her life.

Auderer had been dispatched to determine whether Kevin Dave was impaired when he hit Kandula, throwing her more than 100 feet. Dave had been driving 74 mph in a 25 mph zone on his way to a “priority one call” at the time, police said. The police department did not immediately return a request for comment on the status of Dave’s employment.

Auderer inadvertently left his body camera on while he laughed on a call with the guild president, Mike Solan, and suggested the department “just write a check.”

“Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26 anyway,” Auderer said, misstating Kandula’s age. “She had limited value.”

Solan’s voice cannot be heard in the video, which drew international outrage and calls for Auderer to be placed on unpaid leave or fired.

Kandula, a graduate student at Northeastern University’s Seattle campus, was born in India.

The police department said it learned of the conversation from an employee who listened to it “in the routine course of business” and was “concerned about the nature of statements.” That individual took their concerns to their superiors and once it made its way to the police chief’s office, it was referred to the Office of Police Accountability for investigation, as department policy and the city’s accountability ordinance require.

The Office of Police Accountability, an oversight agency which investigates allegations of police misconduct and recommends discipline to the police chief, is investigating whether any policies were violated, the police department said.

Amid the outrage, the guild said Auderer’s comments had been taken out of context.

Jaahnavi Kandula.GoFundMe

The guild also released a letter that Auderer had sent to the director of the Office of Police Accountability in August — more than six months after Kandula was killed — after he learned about the video’s existence. In it, he wrote that he intended to mimic how a lawyer tasked with negotiating a settlement over Kandula’s death might try to minimize liability for it. Auderer and the guild did not immediately return requests for comment Friday.

In a letter to Chief Adrian Diaz dated Sept. 20, Seattle’s Community Police Commission, which was established under a federal consent decree, has requested that he place Auderer on unpaid leave, calling his comments “horrifying.” The commission said his comments raise questions about his ability to interact with the community.

The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is reviewing whether to pursue charges against Dave.


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