The US cop who joked and laughed in a bodycam video about an Indian student’s death by a police patrol car this year, has defended his remarks in a statement released by the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild.
Jaahnavi Kandula, a student of Northeastern University campus in South Lake Union, was hit by a Seattle Police vehicle driven by officer Kevin Dave at a pedestrian crossing on the night of January 23.
Auderer, who was assigned to see whether Dave was under any influence, left his body camera on by mistake, in which he was heard laughing and saying that Kandula’s life had “limited value” and the city should “just write a check”.
The Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPG), releasing a statement on Friday said that “without context”, this audio is horrifying and has no place in a civil society.
“The video captures only one side of the conversation. There is much more detail and nuance that has not been made public yet,” the Guild said, releasing Auderer’s letter, which he had submitted an August 8, defending his actions and requesting an expedited employee misconduct investigation.
Auderer wrote in his letter to the Guild that while talking to Solan, he had “lamented” Kandula’s death, stating that it was unfortunate that her death would “turn into lawyers arguing ‘the value of human life”.
“I responded with something like: ‘She’s 26 years old. What value is there? Who cares?’ I intended the comment as a mockery of lawyers,” Auderer wrote, adding that the conversation was “inadvertently” recorded.
“I was imitating what a lawyer tasked with negotiating the case would be saying and being sarcastic to express that they shouldn’t be coming up with crazy arguments to minimise the payment. I laughed at the ridiculousness of how these incidents are litigated and the ridiculousness of how I have watched these incidents play out as two parties bargain over a tragedy,” Auderer said in his defence.
“I understand that without context the comment could be interpreted as horrifying and crude. Without context the comment is insensitive to the family of the victim when in reality I was involved in a conversation regarding the callousness of the legal system. At the time I had no idea who the victim was. All I knew was the person’s approximate age and sex,” the Seattle cop added.
He said that the remarks were not made with malice or a hard heart, but quite the opposite.
He added that he is willing to accept “any reasonable discipline our accountability partners and the Chief of Police wish to hand down”.
The Guild praised Auderer for coming forward about the footage one month before it was publicly released, and added that more details surrounding the incident will be shared.
“Upon being made aware of the existence of this video, Dan (Auderer) immediately took ownership of his actions and authored a statement requesting that the Director of OPA (Office of Police Accountability) consider the course of ‘Rapid Adjudication’,” the Guild said.
Rapid Adjudication is a disciplinary process that was agreed to by the City of Seattle and the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild to expedite police employee misconduct investigations so accountability can be swiftly addressed, and reasonable discipline imposed.
This was done by Auderer more than four weeks before the release of the video, the Guild stated in its release.
The footage was released by the Seattle police department “in the interest of transparency”.
Kandula’s family reportedly said that it was “truly disturbing and saddening to hear insensible comments” that were made by Audrer.