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In recording, a Seattle police officer joked after woman’s death. He says remarks were misunderstood

by Joshua Brown
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police accountability

In a recent incident under investigation, a Seattle Police Department union leader, Daniel Auderer, was recorded making light-hearted remarks following the tragic death of a young woman, Jaahnavi Kandula, who was fatally struck by a police cruiser while crossing a street. The incident occurred on January 23rd, and it involved Officer Kevin Dave, who was driving at a high speed of 74 mph on his way to an overdose call.

Auderer, who serves as the vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild and is a drug recognition expert, was tasked with assessing whether Dave was impaired at the time. The troubling recording, which was released by the police department, captured Auderer jokingly suggesting that Kandula’s life had “limited value” and that the city should simply “write a check.” Notably, Auderer inaccurately stated Kandula’s age as 26 during his remarks.

Unfortunately, the recording did not capture the response or comments made by Mike Solan, the guild’s president. Both Auderer and Solan have not provided comments in response to inquiries from various sources.

However, Jason Rantz, a conservative talk radio host on KTTH-AM, reported that he obtained a written statement from Auderer, which was submitted to the city’s Office of Police Accountability. In the statement, Auderer explained that his comments were intended to mimic how city attorneys might attempt to minimize liability in such cases. He emphasized that his intention was to mock lawyers and the often contentious legal proceedings that follow such incidents.

Auderer acknowledged in his statement that when heard in isolation, his comments could be seen as insensitive to the loss of human life. However, he asserted that they were not made with malice and were quite the opposite, expressing his frustration with how these incidents are litigated.

The case is currently under review by the Office of Police Accountability, with details of Auderer’s statement yet to be verified independently. Auderer reportedly self-reported the incident to the accountability office upon realizing that his comments had been recorded, fearing that their publicity could erode community trust in the Seattle Police Department.

In a written statement, the department acknowledged the video and stated that it was brought to their attention by an employee who expressed concerns about the nature of the statements made in the recording. As a result, Chief Adrian Diaz’s office referred the matter to the accountability office for investigation.

It remains unclear whether both Auderer and the chief’s office independently reported the incident to the Office of Police Accountability, and the timeline of Auderer’s reporting is yet to be determined. Meanwhile, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is conducting a criminal review of the tragic crash.

This controversy unfolds as a federal judge recently ended a significant portion of federal oversight of the Seattle Police Department, stemming from a 2012 consent decree aimed at addressing issues related to the use of force, community trust, and other concerns. The Community Police Commission, another police oversight organization, has expressed deep concern over Auderer’s remarks, describing them as “heartbreaking and shockingly insensitive,” and called for a higher standard of conduct from the police department to foster community trust and public safety.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about police accountability

What happened in the incident involving Daniel Auderer and the Seattle Police Department?

In the incident, Daniel Auderer, who is the vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, was recorded making light-hearted remarks following the tragic death of Jaahnavi Kandula, a young woman struck and killed by a police cruiser driven by Officer Kevin Dave. The incident occurred as Kandula was crossing a street on January 23rd. Auderer, a drug recognition expert, was assigned to assess whether Dave was impaired at the time.

What were the specific comments made by Daniel Auderer in the recording?

In the recording released by the police department, Daniel Auderer can be heard suggesting that Kandula’s life had “limited value” and that the city should “just write a check.” Notably, Auderer inaccurately stated Kandula’s age as 26 during his remarks.

Did Mike Solan, the guild’s president, respond to these comments?

Unfortunately, the recording did not capture any comments or responses made by Mike Solan, the guild’s president, in reaction to Daniel Auderer’s remarks.

What explanation did Daniel Auderer provide for his comments?

In a written statement submitted to the city’s Office of Police Accountability, Auderer explained that his comments were intended to mimic how city attorneys might attempt to minimize liability in cases like this. He clarified that his intention was to mock lawyers and express his frustration with the legal proceedings that typically follow such incidents.

How did the authorities respond to this incident?

The case is currently under review by the Office of Police Accountability, and the details of Auderer’s statement are yet to be independently verified. Auderer reportedly self-reported the incident to the accountability office, concerned that the publicity surrounding his comments could harm community trust in the Seattle Police Department. The department acknowledged the video and referred the matter to the accountability office for investigation.

What other developments are related to this incident?

The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is conducting a criminal review of the tragic crash. Additionally, this incident occurs as a federal judge recently ended a significant portion of federal oversight of the Seattle Police Department, stemming from a 2012 consent decree aimed at addressing issues related to the use of force, community trust, and other concerns. The Community Police Commission, another police oversight organization, has expressed deep concern over Auderer’s remarks and called for a higher standard of conduct from the police department to foster community trust and public safety.

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