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The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

‘She had limited value:’ Body camera footage shows Seattle police officer laughing, joking about a Northeastern graduate student’s death

Recently released police body camera footage showed a Seattle Police Department, or SPD, officer, identified by the police department as Officer Daniel Auderer, laughing, joking and minimizing the death of Jaahnavi Kandula, a 23-year-old graduate student studying information systems in the College of Engineering at Northeastern’s Seattle campus. 

Kandula was struck by SPD officer Kevin Dave Jan. 23, who was driving his police cruiser at 74 mph in a 25 mph zone when he hit Kandula while she was walking in a crosswalk, according to an SPD investigation report

In the video, Auderer states that “50 miles an hour…isn’t out of control for a trained driver,” before going on to question whether Kandula was thrown 40 feet upon being hit. 

“It’s a regular person … yeah, just write a check,” Auderer, who is the vice president for the Seattle Police Officers Guild, or SPOG, said in the footage recorded the day after the collision while on the phone with SPOG President Mike Solan. “Eleven thousand dollars, she was 26 [sic] anyways, she had limited value.” 

The SPOG, a labor union representing all officers and sergeants on the SPD, did not respond to requests for comment by The News.

Kandula’s family released a statement to Fox 13 Wednesday calling Auderer’s comments “disturbing and saddening.”

“Jaahnavi is a beloved daughter and beyond any dollar value for her mother and family,” the family said. “We firmly believe that every human life is invaluable and should not be belittled, especially during a tragic loss.”

According to the report about the Jan. 23 incident, Kandula was thrown 138 feet from where she was hit at the intersection of Dexter Avenue North and Thomas Street. The report concluded that Dave hit her at a speed of 63 mph and that “the proximate cause of [the] collision was the speed at which Ofc Dave approached the intersection,” in which Kandula “had the right of way.”



Auderer, who was hired by the SPD in 2008, was assigned to evaluate Dave for signs of impairment on the night of the accident, according to the report. He concluded that Dave was “not impaired and safe to operate a motor vehicle,” according to his statement, in which he said he did not know the pedestrian’s age or extent of her injuries at the time. 

According to an SPD statement included in Auderer’s body camera video, the footage was identified “in the routine course of business by a department employee” who was concerned about the statements and “appropriately escalated their concerns through the chain of command to the Chief’s office.” The Chief then recommended the video to the Office of Police Accountability, or OPA, who are currently investigating whether Auderer violated SPD policy. 

“Recognizing the public concern around this video, SPD is putting out this video in the interest of transparency, but consistent with City law, SPD reserves any comment on the substance pending the completion of OPA’s investigation,” the SPD stated in the video. 

The OPA confirmed in email communications with The News that they received the complaint from an SPD employee Aug. 2. They declined to comment further because the investigation is pending. The News was unable to track the case with the case number provided by the OPA, 2023OPA-0336, because the complaint “has been classified and either involved an investigation, action by the employee’s supervisor or a combination of the two.” 

According to reporting by The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, a conservative talk radio show which reportedly obtained the complaint against Auderer, the officer’s body cam was accidentally turned on during his conversation with Solan. He allegedly self-reported his comments to the OPA once he realized the conversation was recorded. According to KTTH, Auderer wrote that he was mocking “crazy” arguments city lawyers could make in “[a case] like this.”

Seattle’s Community Police Commission, or CPC, an independent group that provides community input on police reforms, called the video “heartbreaking and shockingly insensitive” in a statement released on their website. 

“The reported explanation that he was mocking lawyers does not make this unprofessional and inhumane conduct any better because it shows — in what was believed to be a private conversation with SPOG leadership — a callus dismissiveness towards police accountability systems,” the statement said. 

Joel Merkel, co-chair of the CPC, said the video is reflective of the culture within the SPD community and is problematic because Auderer was showing disregard towards a victim and mocking matters related to police accountability. 

“If this is their view on some of the members of their community, how is that impacting their work?” Merkel said in a phone interview with The News. “How are they treating community members [of different backgrounds]? We don’t know.”

Merkel said the CPC aims to keep working towards implementing a 2017 Community Ordinance outlining the CPC’s recommendations for police reform and hopes to see a culture change within the SPD.  

According to SPD Chief Adrian Diaz’s statement Jan. 30 following the initial incident, the collision was not investigated as a use of force case and was instead probed as a potential criminal act by the Traffic Collision Investigation Squad. The OPA also investigated whether Dave complied with policy.

According to OpenOversight, a web database that collects information on officers’ disciplinary records, Auderer had 18 complaints investigated by the OPA between 2014-2018. Four out of 18 complaints were sustained, which included violations of use of force and professional standards policies. 

SPD did not respond to questions from The News regarding whether Auderer or Dave were still on duty or whether disciplinary actions had been taken against Dave. 

The SPD expressed “deepest sympathy for the tragic collision” in their video statement and said they have been in touch with the family of the victim. 

“The people of Seattle deserve better from a police department that is charged with fostering trust with the community and ensuring public safety,” CPC’s statement said.

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About the Contributor
Emily Spatz
Emily Spatz, Campus Editor
Emily Spatz is a journalism and political science combined major with a minor in english and campus editor of The News. She is currently a general assignment reporter co-op at and has interned at her hometown newspaper covering business, city events and politics. She hopes to continue bringing pertinent, timely and thorough reporting to the Northeastern community. You can follow her @emilymspatz on X.