‘Every human life is invaluable’: Jaahnavi Kandula's family ‘distressed’ by Seattle union leader's insensitive comments

BySumanti Sen
Sep 15, 2023 08:06 AM IST

“It is truly disturbing and saddening to hear insensible comments on the bodycam video,” Jaahnavi Kandula's family said in a statement

The family of Jaahnavi Kandula, an Indian student who was killed by a police cruiser being driven by a Seattle cop, has released a statement days after body camera footage revealed insensitive comments made by a Seattle PD union leader after her death. Seattle Police Department union leader Daniel Auderer was heard laughing and saying Jaahnavi’s life had “limited value” and the city should “just write a check.”

Jaahnavi Kandula was killed on January 23 by a speeding car being driven by a cop (GoFundMe)
Jaahnavi Kandula was killed on January 23 by a speeding car being driven by a cop (GoFundMe)

"It is truly disturbing and saddening to hear insensible comments on the bodycam video from an SPD officer regarding Jaahnavi's death. Jaahnavi is a beloved daughter and beyond any dollar value for her mother and family. We firmly believe that every human life is invaluable and should not be belittled, especially during a tragic loss,” Jaahnavi’s family said in a statement, according to NDTV.

Jaahnavi’s 69-year-old grandfather said that the family has been left "deeply distressed" by the video. He added that the incident added to the trauma and depression her mother has been going through. "This makes it worse. How can anyone speak like that after a tragic accident?" he said.

"Why wasn't this information revealed earlier? We have lost our child... but this is beyond shocking... and how can they say the car was not over-speeding?" he continued, adding that the family is "not in a state to even react to this (the bodycam footage).”

Of Jaahnavi’s mother, the grandfather said, “My daughter brought Jaahnavi up with great difficulty! She is not stepping out of the house...unable to come to terms with her eldest daughter's loss. People have been calling us non-stop.”

"... not just media, but people who mean well. But my daughter is just not able to come to terms and is crying and has stopped eating since yesterday, It is as though all the pain has come alive once again,” he added.

What did the body camera footage reveal?

Jaahnavi, 23, was hit at the intersection of Dexter Avenue North and Thomas Street within moments of the car reaching the top speed on January 23, according to Fox13 Seattle. She was taken to Harborview Medical Center where she succumbed to her injuries. Behind the wheel of the vehicle that caused the tragedy was Seattle officer Kevin Dave.

Daniel Auderer, a drug recognition expert, was asked to examine whether Kevin was impaired, according to The Seattle Times. Daniel later called guild President Mike Solan to report what happened, following which he made the remarks. “Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26 anyway,” Daniel can be heard saying in a recently-released body camera footage, stating Jaahnavi's age inaccurately. “She had limited value.” Mike’s remarks were not captured in the recording.

Jason Rantz, a talk radio host on KTTH-AM, later said that he had obtained a written statement that Daniel provided to the city’s Office of Police Accountability. Daniel reportedly said in the statement that his remarks were intended to mimic how the city’s attorneys might react to the death.

Jaahnavi arrived in Seattle from Bengaluru, India, in 2021 to receive a master’s degree, and was pursuing a Master of Science in Information Systems at the College of Engineering. She was set to graduate this December.

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