The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

Investigation finds Seattle police officer laughing at Northeastern graduate student’s death broke department policies, undermined public trust

Daniel+Auderer%2C+who+was+reassigned+to+a+nonoperational+role+after+being+shown+laughing+at+the+death+of+a+Northeastern+graduate+student.+Photo+courtesy+Lucy+Parsons+Lab.
Daniel Auderer, who was reassigned to a nonoperational role after being shown laughing at the death of a Northeastern graduate student. Photo courtesy Lucy Parsons Lab.

Seattle police officer Daniel Auderer violated department policies and undermined public trust when he made remarks saying a deceased Northeastern graduate student had “limited value” last year, an investigation by Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability found.

According to a report by the Office of Police Accountability, or OPA, made public Tuesday, Auderer violated the Seattle Police Department’s standards of professionalism and bias-based policing policies when he laughed and joked about the death of Jaahnavi Kandula, a 23-year-old graduate student at Northeastern’s Seattle campus. His comments were captured on body camera footage in a conversation with another officer the day after Kandula’s death.

The report said a discipline meeting was held for Auderer Tuesday where OPA and other officials in the Seattle Police Department, or SPD, discussed the investigation’s findings and recommended actions to Chief of Police Adrian Diaz, who is the only one with authority to impose discipline. The disciplinary actions recommended were not made public as of Sunday. 

In OPA’s report, the office’s director, Gino Betts Jr., said Auderer’s comments were “derogatory, disturbing, and inhumane.”

According to the report, SPD prohibits “behavior that undermines public trust,” including “language that is derogatory, contemptuous, or disrespectful toward any person.”

“It also forbids prejudice or derogatory language about someone’s discernible personal characteristics,” the report reads. 

Auderer was reassigned to a non-operational position in October, The News previously reported.

Kandula was struck and killed by Seattle police officer Kevin Dave Jan. 23, 2023 — exactly a year before the report was released — while walking in a crosswalk. An SPD report said Dave was driving 74 mph in a 25 mph zone when he hit Kandula. 

Body camera footage released by SPD last fall showed Auderer in a conversation with another officer the day after the collision suggesting SPD “write a check” for $11,000 and saying Kandula had “limited value.” He was also heard saying that “50 miles an hour… isn’t out of control for a trained driver,” presumably referring to Dave’s speed upon hitting Kandula. 

An SPD employee brought a complaint about the footage to OPA while identifying the footage “in the routine course of business,” SPD said in a statement to The News in September. After SPD publicly released the video, the report said that OPA received “hundreds” of complaints. 

“The officer’s comments undermined public trust in the department, himself, and his colleagues,” Betts said in a statement included in OPA’s release. “For many, it confirmed, fairly or not, beliefs that some officers devalue and conceal disparaging views about community members.”

The remarks prompted outrage and grief on both Northeastern’s Boston and Seattle campuses. Students and administrators gathered to memorialize Kandula and the university released a statement saying Auderer’s comments were “callous and insensitive.”

Members of the Seattle Alliance Against Racial & Political Repression and other Seattle locals have rallied multiple times since the body camera footage was released, demanding justice for Kandula and consequences for both Dave and Auderer.

On Tuesday, Seattle’s Community Police Commission released a statement marking the one-year anniversary of Kandula’s death, saying the incident was “completely preventable” and recommending policies about the speed at which emergency responders are allowed to travel. 

“In our engagement with the Indian American community, we heard deep sorrow at the senselessness of Ms. Kandula’s death, frustration at the SPD’s lack of response and anger at the insensitive comments made by two SPD officers that devalued the life of a young Indian national,” the statement read. “A complete review and rewriting of the city’s emergency response policy with broad input from Seattle’s citizens could alleviate some of those concerns and help and honor Ms. Kandula’s brief life.”

About the Contributor
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 Boston.com 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.
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