By Aaron Miller-
Seattle protesters are to stage a rally today(Thursday) at the Dexter & Thomas Avenue after the release of body-camera footage from January has ignited outrage over the conduct of a leading Seattle police officer being grossly insensitive and distasteful over the tragic killing of an Indian student.
The footage shows Officer Daniel Auderer making disparaging comments about the tragic death of a young woman, Jaahnavi Kandula, (pictured)who was struck by a police cruiser driven by Officer Kevin Dave at an alarming speed of 74 mph.
The incendiary comments made by Officer Auderer, suggesting that Kandula’s life had “limited value” and that the city should simply “write a check,” sent shockwaves through the city. The incident has further fueled long-standing concerns over racial tensions and police misconduct in Seattle.
The Community Police Commission, another SPD oversight body, characterized the body-camera audio as “heartbreaking and shockingly insensitive,” saying it “speaks to the concerns that the (CPC) has repeatedly raised about elements of Seattle Police Department culture and SPOG resistance to officer accountability measures.”
“The people of Seattle deserve better from a police department that is charged with fostering trust with the community and ensuring public safety,” the commission’s members said in a joint statement.
The Office of Police Accountability opened an investigation into the conversation after an attorney for the Police Department reported the conversation in August, but footage of the conversation was not made public until this week, sparking widespread criticism.
Amid growing national outrage, Mayor Bruce Harrell sent a letter to Kandula’s family, days after the footage was released and eight months after her death, offering condolences and prayers.
Jaahnavi Kandula, a 23-year-old Indian student, was tragically killed on January 23 while she was in a crosswalk at the intersection of Thomas Street and Dexter Avenue North.
The collision with the police cruiser was so forceful that Kandula was thrown more than 100 feet and succumbed to her injuries later that night.
The tragic student was on the brink of graduating with a master’s degree in information systems from Northeastern University’s Seattle campus, with her commencement ceremony scheduled for this December.
The release of the body-camera footage has ignited widespread outrage, with many Seattle residents demanding immediate accountability for the actions of Officer Auderer, and questioning the overall culture within the Seattle Police Department.
On Wednesday, City Councilmember Tammy Morales called out Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz, urging him to take immediate action against Officer Daniel Auderer.
Leaders of the Seattle Police Officers Guild are also under investigation for allegedly downplaying the gravity of Kandula’s tragic death.
The guild’s response, or lack thereof, has further fueled public anger and contributed to growing calls for reform within the police department.
In response to these developments, the Seattle Alliance against Racist and Political Repression has organized a protest rally scheduled for Thursday at 5 p.m. The gathering will take place at the very intersection where Kandula lost her life, at Thomas and Dexter.
The protest is expected to draw a diverse and passionate crowd of Seattle residents who are united in their demands for justice, transparency, and accountability.
Demonstrators will call for a thorough investigation into the conduct of Officer Auderer and Officer Dave, as well as a review of the broader issues surrounding racial bias and misconduct within the Seattle Police Department.
Seattle has endured a troubling history of strained race relations and high-profile cases of alleged police brutality, including unjustified killings of individuals from ethnic backgrounds. The death of Jaahnavi Kandula and the subsequent comments by Officer Auderer have reignited the city’s frustration and pain.
Seattle stands at a crossroads, with an opportunity to address its ongoing issues with racial inequality and police conduct.
Thursday rally represents a powerful and unified call for change, as the city seeks a path forward that values the lives and dignity of all its residents, regardless of their background.