Seattle police union rank-and-file leaders are under investigation after an officer was recorded on his body camera appearing to make light of the death of a woman who was killed by another officer this year, saying that she "had limited value."
The Seattle Police Department released footage Monday from Officer Daniel Auderer's body camera. Auderer left his body camera on after responding to the South Lake Union neighborhood, where a marked patrol vehicle driven by another officer struck and killed Jaahnavi Kandula on Jan. 23.
That officer had been responding to a "priority one call," police said a day after the incident, when he hit Kandula, 23, who had been in a crosswalk.
'She Had Limited Value'
In the brief clip, Auderer, who is vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, is driving and can be heard discussing details of the incident in a call with the guild's president, Mike Solan.
Auderer said that the officer whose vehicle struck Kandula had been "going 50" and that "that's not out of control." The Seattle Times, citing a police investigation report that was referred to prosecutors for review last month, reported that the officer had been driving at 74 mph and Kandula was thrown more than 100 feet.
"That's not reckless for a trained driver," Auderer also said in the video, adding that he doesn't believe "she was thrown 40 feet either."
"But she is dead," he said. He later laughs and says, "No, it's a regular person." Only Auderer's statements are audible in the video.
"Yeah, just write a check," he also said and laughed again.
"Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26 anyway," Auderer said, misstating Kandula's age. "She had limited value."
Seattle Police Department Released Statement
In a statement Monday, the Seattle Police Department said it learned of the conversation not from Auderer, but from an employee who listened to it "in the routine course of business."
That employee was "concerned about the nature of statements" and took their concerns through their chain of command to the chief's office. After reviewing the video, the chief's office referred it to the Office of Police Accountability for investigation, as department policy and the city's accountability ordinance require.
The oversight agency, which investigates police misconduct and recommends discipline to the police chief, is investigating "the context in which" the statements were made and whether any policies had been violated, the police department said.
Katie Maier, the assistant director of operations at the Office of Police Accountability, confirmed an investigation was initiated after the agency received a complaint Aug. 2 from an employee with the Seattle Police Department
Kandula, who was from India, had been pursuing her graduate degree at Northeastern University in Seattle, according to a GoFundMe that was launched to support her family.