New Delhi: A 23-year-old Indian-origin woman Jaahnavi Kandula died on January 23, 2023, after being struck by a Seattle police patrol vehicle in the United States. Months after her demise, the shocking incident gained widespread attention when a recording from a body-worn camera surfaced, exposing two union leaders from the Seattle Police Department callously joking about her tragic death.
Reacting to the news of her death, actor Farhan Akhtar took to Instagram and paid his condolences. “#JaahnaviKandula. We didn’t know each other but I know that as a student preparing to make a place for herself in the world, your potential was limitless and your value immeasurable. Condolences to your family. RIP,” he wrote, adding a picture of Jaahnavi.
On Monday, the Seattle Police Department released footage from Officer Daniel Auderer’s body camera. Auderer left his body camera on after responding to the South Lake Union area where a marked patrol vehicle driven by another officer Kevin Dave struck and killed Indian-origin woman Jaahnavi Kandula, according to NBC News report.
A day after the incident, the police said that the officer had been responding to a “priority one call.” In the footage Auderer, who serves as vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, is driving and can be heard talking about the accident that involved 23-year-old graduate student Kandula in a call with the guild’s president Mike Solan.
In the video, Auderer can be heard saying “she is dead” before bursting out into laughter. Referring to Kandula, Auderer said, “No, it’s a regular person.” Towards the end of the clip, he can be heard saying, through bursts of laughter, “Yeah, just write a check. Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26 anyway,” misstating the age of the victim.
He further said, “She had limited value,” New York Post reported. Auderer said that he did not believe a criminal investigation was being carried out. He said, “I mean, he was going 50 mph. That’s not out of control. That’s not reckless for a trained driver.”However, a report released in June revealed that Dave was driving 74 mph in a 25-mph zone while responding to a different “high-priority” call, NBC News reported citing KIRO 7.
Since the video was released, people have been calling out the police officers.
The Consulate General of India in San Francisco has raised concerns over the handling of an Indian-origin woman, Jaahnavi Kandula, who was killed by a police vehicle, and has demanded a through investigation and action against those involved.
The matter pertains to the reports showing an officer appearing to joke and bursting into laughter over the death of an Indian-origin student who was killed in January this year.
“Recent reports including in media of the handling of Ms Jaahnavi Kandula’s death in a road accident in Seattle in January are deeply troubling. We have taken up the matter strongly with local authorities in Seattle and Washington State as well as senior officials in Washington DC for a thorough investigation and action against those involved in this tragic case,” the Consulate General of India stated on X (formerly Twitter).
It added, “The Consulate and Embassy will continue to closely follow up on this matter with all concerned authorities”.
Jaahnavi hailed from Andhra Pradesh. She was pursuing a master’s degree from the Northeastern University campus in South Lake Union.