A Seattle police officer is under scrutiny after being recorded making jokes about a woman who was killed by a police car.
The incident occurred during a recorded conversation between the officer and a fellow officer, with the recording subsequently being made public.
In the recording, the officer can be heard making insensitive remarks about the woman’s death, including comments that appeared to make light of the tragic incident. The comments have sparked outrage and criticism from the community and civil rights advocates.
The woman in question, Summer Taylor, was participating in a protest on a closed section of a Seattle freeway when she was struck and killed by a police car that was reportedly responding to a separate incident. The incident occurred during the summer of 2020 when protests against police violence and racial injustice were taking place across the country.
The Seattle Police Department has initiated an internal investigation into the officer’s comments, and the officer could potentially face disciplinary action. The incident highlights the ongoing concerns and criticisms regarding police behavior and accountability, particularly in cases involving the use of force and insensitivity to tragic events.
The investigation is ongoing regarding bodycam footage that appears to show Seattle police officer Daniel Auderer making insensitive comments about Jaahnavi Kandula, a 23-year-old student who was fatally struck by a patrol car near her university. In the video, Officer Auderer is heard suggesting that Kandula’s life had “limited value” and that the city should “just write a cheque.”
Officer Auderer has claimed that his comments were taken out of context. However, the footage has raised significant concerns and has been widely criticized for its insensitivity, especially given the tragic nature of Kandula’s death. The investigation will likely seek to determine the full context of the comments and whether they were inappropriate or violated any departmental policies.
The incident highlights the ongoing challenges and controversies surrounding police behavior and accountability, particularly in cases involving insensitive or inappropriate comments made by officers. The investigation will likely determine the appropriate actions to be taken in response to Officer Auderer’s comments.
Jaahnavi Kandula, a graduate student at Northeastern University, tragically lost her life on January 23 when she was struck and killed by a police car while crossing the street. According to a police investigation report cited by The Seattle Times, the officer driving the car was traveling at a speed of 74 mph (119 km/h), and Kandula’s body was thrown over 100 feet (30 meters) due to the impact.
The troubling comments made by Officer Daniel Auderer were captured by his body camera during a call he made to a colleague in response to the incident. In the audio, Officer Auderer is heard saying, “But she is dead,” followed by laughter. He then comments, “No, it’s a regular person. Yeah, just write a cheque,” again followed by laughter. He further adds, “Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26, anyway. She had limited value.”
Officer Auderer, who is also a leader in the Seattle Police Department union, was speaking with Mike Solan, the guild’s president, during the call. The audio from Mr. Solan cannot be heard in the released footage.
The Seattle Police Department issued a statement indicating that they became aware of the conversation when an employee came across it “in the routine course of business.” The incident has prompted widespread outrage and calls for a thorough investigation into Officer Auderer’s comments and actions surrounding the tragic incident.
The discovery of Officer Daniel Auderer’s comments was made by an employee who expressed concern about the nature of the statements. This employee escalated their concerns up the chain of command within the Seattle Police Department, which subsequently handed the matter over to the Office of Police Accountability, an agency responsible for investigating police misconduct.
The Office of Police Accountability is currently investigating the context in which the statements were made and whether any department policies were violated. The Seattle Community Police Commission, another oversight agency, described the body-camera footage as “heartbreaking and shockingly insensitive.” Various community leaders and members have expressed their shock and dismay over the comments, with many finding them deeply disturbing.
In response to the controversy, Officer Auderer reportedly provided a written statement to conservative talk radio host Jason Rantz, in which he claimed that his comments were intended to mimic how city attorneys might attempt to minimize liability for the woman’s death. He stated that he laughed at the perceived absurdity of how such incidents are litigated.
Additionally, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is conducting a criminal review of the crash that resulted in Jaahnavi Kandula’s tragic death. The investigation into the comments made by Officer Auderer and the circumstances surrounding the incident remains ongoing.