Jaahnavi Kandula’s death: No criminal charges against Seattle police officer

Jaahnavi Kandula was struck by a police vehicle driven by officer Dave when she was crossing a street in Seattle on 23 January.

ByPTI

Published Feb 22, 2024 | 8:47 AMUpdatedFeb 22, 2024 | 8:47 AM

Jaahnvi Kandula

The Seattle police officer who struck and killed Indian student Jaahnavi Kandula while responding to an overdose call, will not face any criminal charges due to a lack of “sufficient” evidence, authorities said.

On Wednesday, the King County Prosecutor’s Office said they will not move forward with criminal charges against Seattle Police Officer Kevin Dave, FOX13 Seattle reported.

In a statement released Wednesday, the King County Prosecuting Attorney said, “Kandula’s death is heartbreaking and impacted communities in King County and across the world.”

Kandula, 23, from the Adoni city of the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, was struck by a police vehicle driven by officer Dave when she was crossing a street in Seattle on 23 January. He was driving 74 mph (more than 119 kmph) on the way to a report of a drug overdose call.

Kandula was thrown 100 feet when she was struck by the speeding police patrol vehicle.

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‘She had limited value’

In bodycam footage released by the Seattle Police Department, Officer Daniel Auderer laughed about the deadly crash and dismissed any implication Dave might be at fault or that a criminal investigation was necessary.

King County Prosecuting Attorney Leesa Manion said that she believes they lack the evidence to prove a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt, the report added.

“It is the responsibility of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to review all available evidence relating to the case involving Seattle Police Officer Kevin Dave and the January 2023 collision death of Jaahnavi Kandula.

After staffing this case with senior deputy prosecuting attorneys and office leadership, I have determined that we lack sufficient evidence under Washington State law to prove a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The statement also said that the prosecutor’s office also finds the comments made by Seattle Police Officer Daniel Auderer, recorded on his body-worn video, “appalling and deeply troubling.”

Auderer, who was not involved in the January collision, was captured in the video saying, “But she is dead” and laughing while on the phone.

She was 26 anyway,” Auderer said in the video. “She had limited value.”

“Officer Auderer’s comments were also unprofessional and undermined the public’s trust in the Seattle Police Department and law enforcement in general,” said Manion.

“As egregious as Officer Auderer’s comments are, they do not change the PAO’s legal analysis into the conduct of Officer Dave. It is the Office of Police Accountability that bears the responsibility of disciplinary investigation and proceedings relating to Officer Auderer’s comment, not the PAO.”

Auderer was pulled from patrol in September 2023 and reassigned to a “non-operational position.”

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Unprofessional act

Auderer could still be fired after the fallout of his insensitive comments captured on bodycam.

Auderer’s chain of command and the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) found he acted unprofessionally. For that, he faces the highest disciplinary range of nearly two weeks suspension up to termination, according to a disciplinary action report.

Before a final disciplinary decision, Auderer will have the chance to meet with Police Chief Adrian Diaz to disagree.

His disciplinary hearing is scheduled for March 4, K5 News reported.

Seattle local media reported that speed was the cause of the collision, as the speed at which Dave was travelling did “not allow (Kandula) or him sufficient time to detect, address and avoid a hazard that presented itself.”

Dave was responding to a “priority one” call at the request of the Seattle Fire Department, according to the Seattle Police Department. According to the police report, the officer was responding to a report of a drug overdose.

The officer did not have his siren activated continuously. Instead, the officer “chirped” his siren at the intersection. He did have his emergency lights on, according to a previous statement from the police department.

In a memo to Seattle police, prosecutors wrote there was not enough evidence to prove Dave showed “conscious disregard for others safety.”

A drug recognition expert responded to the scene and found no impairment in the officer.

Kandula was a graduate student at Northeastern University at the Seattle campus. The university said in January 2023 that they would award her degree posthumously and present it to her family.

(Disclaimer: The headline, subheads, and intro of this report along with the photos may have been reworked by South First. The rest of the content is from a syndicated feed, and has been edited for style.)