Rank-and-file Seattle police union leaders are under investigation after they could be heard joking about and downplaying the death of a woman struck by a police cruiser, the Seattle Times reports. They suggested her life had "limited value" and that the city should "just write a check." Officer Daniel Auderer, vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, inadvertently left his body camera running after responding Jan. 23 to a location where another officer, Kevin Dave, struck and killed Jaahnavi Kandula while driving 74 mph on the way to a report of an overdose. Kandula, who had been in a crosswalk, was thrown over 100 feet. The 23-year-old died later that night. Auderer, a drug-recognition officer assigned to determine whether Dave was under the influence, concluded his colleague was not impaired. After finishing his routine analysis, he called officers guilt President Mike Solan, and the pair talked for two minutes.
In the conversation, he laughs about the deadly crash and dismisses any implication the officer might be at fault or that a criminal investigation was necessary. “Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26 anyway,” Auderer said, misstating the victim’s age. “She had limited value.” Chief Adrian Diaz, said the department learned of the conversation not from Auderer, but from an employee who listened to it “during the routine course of business.” That employee became concerned and took it up the chain of command. Office of Police Accountability Director Gino Betts Jr. confirmed the watchdog agency’s investigation and that it was initiated after police attorney Rebecca Boatright emailed the accountabilisy office on Aug. 2. The Community Police Commission, another police oversight body, characterized the body-camera audio as “heartbreaking and shockingly insensitive,” saying it “speaks to the concerns that the [CPC] has repeatedly raised about elements of Seattle Police Department culture and (union) resistance to officer accountability measures.”