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“Will Ensure…”: On Indian Student’s Death, An Apology By Mayor, Top Cop

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Jahnavi Kandula Death: Mayor Bruce Harrel apologised to the Indian community

New Delhi:

The Seattle Mayor has expressed his anguish over the death of an Indian student, days after a bodycam footage of a cop – joking about the incident – went viral.

In the bodycam footage, officer Daniel Auderer was heard laughing about the deadly crash after Jaahnavi Kandula was run over by a police car earlier this year. 

Mayor Bruce Harrel apologised to the Indian community for the insensitive remarks made by Daniel Auderer. “Members of the Indian community have come together because of the unfortunate and insensitive remarks I believe were made.We are making sure that our apology as city officials is felt to your community and family, my condolences for your loss,” he said.

Seattle police chief Adrian Diaz also offered his condolences for the 23-year-old’s death. “We are here to continue to listen. We had these insensitive comments, we will ensure that it never ever occurs. We value human life,” he said.

About 20 people – representing the Indian community in the region – met with the Seattle Mayor and Police Chief on Saturday. During the meeting, the mayor and the police chief reiterated their commitment to create a Seattle where “every neighbour feels safe, heard, and respected.”

The US government has assured India of a quick and fair investigation into the death of Jaahnavi Kandula.

The authorities swung into action after Indian consulate raised the issue and sought action against those responsible for Jaahnavi Kandula’s death and also those heard joking on the video.

In the video, Officer Daniel Auderer can be heard laughing about the deadly crash and also says that there was no need for a criminal investigation against his colleague Kevin Dave, who was driving the car. 

“But she is dead… ” the officer is heard saying before laughing. “No, it’s a regular person. Yeah, just write a cheque,” he is heard, before laughing again. “Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26, anyway. She had limited value.”

The footage was released on Monday – months after Ms Kandula was killed – with a brief statement that said it had been flagged by Seattle Police Department employee “in the routine course of business” who expressed “concern about the nature of statements heard” on the video.

Auderer had been tasked with determining if Dave was under the influence and concluded he was not. After finishing his inquiry he was talking to SPOG chief Mike Solan and the bodycam footage captured the audio from that call. Only Auderer’s side of the conversation is audible.