DEVELOPING STORY: Northeastern grad student struck and killed by police cruiser in Seattle

Rachel Erwin and Rachel Umansky-Castro

Jaahnavi Kandula, a 23-year-old Northeastern University graduate student, was killed when a city police cruiser struck her as she crossed the street in Seattle, just a few blocks from the university’s campus, according to officials.

Kandula was allegedly struck by a Seattle Police Department cruiser on Monday, Jan. 23 around 8 p.m. at the intersection of Dexter Avenue North and Thomas Street.

The officer was following a “priority one” call about a man who was noted to have been experiencing a potentially life-threatening medical incident. After leaving the scene, he allegedly collided with Kandula, the Seattle Times reported. 

Chief Adrian Diaz of the Seattle Police Department made a statement Jan. 30 revealing the officer involved was Kevin A. Dave, who has been with the department since 2019. Dave returned to work two days after the incident. 

Kandula was studying information systems at Northeastern’s Seattle campus, and local authorities brought her to Harborview Medical Center, where she died the next day from severe injuries. 

Reports say the officer involved returned to work two days after the incident and that he has been with the department since 2019. 

David Thurman, dean and CEO of Northeastern’s Seattle campus, said in an email to the university’s Seattle campus last week that Kandula’s loss will be felt “deeply” across campus.

 “Jaahnavi is remembered as a stellar student and a delightful and effervescent human being. She was a close friend to many and friends shared that they loved her bubbly laugh, sense of humor and infectious personality. Her loss will be felt deeply by students, staff, and faculty across campus,” he wrote.

Kandula moved from Bengaluru, India, to Seattle in 2021, Thurman wrote. She was expected to graduate in December with a Master of Science in Information Systems from the College of Engineering. She worked as a Junior Executive at CAMTek Solutions for two years examining technical and artistic outputs, and as an Administrative & Events Assistant on the Seattle campus, Thurman wrote. 

Kandula was raised by her single-mom who is a teacher in India. Kandula’s uncle, Ashok Mandula, and her family have set up a GoFundMe page, which has raised over $150,000 as of Monday. The organizers of the now-closed GoFundMe are asking for more information from Seattle police. 

“The family deserves answers to their questions, and her grieving mother deserves closure. We will continue to push police and city officials for answers,” Kandula’s family wrote.

The Seattle Police Department made a statement that all public records will be released once able to do so, and in consultation with the family. This is an active investigation by the traffic collision investigation squad, TCIS. After the investigation, the report will be given to the King County Prosecutor’s Office, who will then make a decision for any charges.

This is a developing story that will be updated. If you have any information about this incident, please reach out to The Huntington News at [email protected].

Editor’s note: This story was updated to include new information from the Seattle Police Department Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 7:10 p.m.