US has assured of a fair probe after a video showing a cop joking about the death of an Indian student Jaahnavi Kandula in Seattle after she was hit by a speeding police car went viral. The Indian Consulate in San Francisco had expressed concern over the handling of the case. The video shows officer Daniel Auderer laughing about the deadly crash and saying there was no need for a criminal investigation against his colleague Kevin Dave, who was driving the car.
Who was Jaahnavi Kandula?
The 23-year-old was from Andhra Pradesh and pursuing a master’s degree from the Northeastern University campus in South Lake Union.
She went to the US from Bengaluru on a student exchange programme in 2021 and was due to graduate this December.
Ms Kandula’s family is deeply distressed by the revelations. Her grandfather told NDTV that the family had not recovered from loss and the policeman’s behaviour makes it worse. “How can anyone speak like that after a tragic accident?” he asked.
What happened on January 23?
Ms Kandula was hit and killed by a police car while crossing the street. According to The Seattle Times, Kevin Dave, the police officer driving the car was going 119 kmph and the graduate student’s body was thrown more than 100 feet.
Ms Kandula was taken to Harbourview Medical Centre, but died due to her injuries.
How the police officer on the scene reacted?
TheSeattle Times said that officer Auderer was called to the scene and his body camera recorded audio from a call he made to a colleague.
“But she is dead,” the officer is heard saying before laughing. “No, it’s a regular person. Yeah, just write a cheque,” he says, before laughing again.
“Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26, anyway. She had limited value.”
After the Seattle Police Department released the footage on Monday, it led to outrage on social media. “Sue the Police department…that’s how they will learn to respect dead,” one user said on X (formerly Twitter).
“If this was an American citizen killed on Indian soil then USA would have shaken up Indian government to the roots! Those policemen should be punished in prison or their licence should be permanently suspended,” said another.
What officer Audrer said after the outrage?
Officer Auderer said his comments were taken out of context. Jason Rantz, a radio host, said he has a written statement from the police officer saying his comments were meant to mimic how city attorneys might try to minimise liability for the woman’s death.
But Mr Kandula’s family is surprised why this information was not revealed earlier. “We have lost our child but this is beyond shocking,” her grandfather told NDTV.