Sep 14, 2023 - News

Seattle officer's remarks on dead pedestrian spark outrage

Illustration of a glowing siren on top of a microphone.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Public outrage is mounting after a Seattle police officer was recorded on camera laughing and saying that a pedestrian struck and killed by another officer in January had "limited value."

Driving the news: Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales said in a statement this week that Officer Daniel Auderer "should not be on the force" after his remarks, which appeared to make light of the death of 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula.

Catch up quick: Kandula was in a marked crosswalk when she was struck and killed by an officer, Kevin Dave, who was driving to an emergency call in January.

  • The news website PubliCola, citing obtained documents, reported that Dave was driving as fast as 74 mph — almost 50 mph above the posted speed limit — in the moments before he struck Kandula with his cruiser.
  • Officers responding to emergency calls are allowed to exceed the speed limit in certain situations.

The latest: Protesters planned to rally Thursday evening at the intersection where Kandula was hit. The event organizers' call to action on Facebook cited Auderer's recorded comments as a sign that "Seattle police think they are untouchable."

  • A coalition that includes family members of people killed by police released statements Wednesday objecting to Auderer's comments.
  • "It's no joke when police reveal their true feelings of contempt for the people they are sworn to protect," Annalesa Thomas, whose son was killed by Lakewood police in 2013, said in a news release.
  • Neither the Seattle Police Department nor the Seattle Police Officers Guild responded to inquiries from Axios Thursday.

Details: The Seattle Police Department publicly released the video footage Monday after it was reported on in the media.

  • In the video, Auderer, who is captured on body camera while discussing the fatal collision, can be heard saying, "Yeah, just write a check. $11,000. She was 26 anyway, she had limited value."

What they're saying: In a statement, the Seattle Police Department said one of its employees had been "concerned about the nature of statements heard on that video" and "appropriately escalated their concerns through their chain of command."

  • The incident has been sent to the city's Office of Police Accountability for investigation.

Between the lines: Auderer is the police guild's vice president, and reportedly made the comments while talking to guild president Mike Solan on the phone.

  • The video footage of the conversation captures only Auderer's comments, however.
  • A report from conservative radio host Jason Rantz indicated that Auderer may have been making a sarcastic comment about city lawyers arguing "the value of human life," not expressing his own views.
  • Solan didn't respond to Axios' questions about the incident Thursday.

The police department and the Office of Police Accountability said they won't comment on the investigation until it has concluded.


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