A Seattle police officer is under investigation after his body-worn camera captured a phone conversation following the death of a woman who was fatally struck by a police car in which the officer is laughing and says the victim “had limited value,” according to the footage and a statement from the Seattle Police Department.
The officer, Daniel Auderer, was dispatched to a crash scene on January 23 after another officer hit and killed 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula in a crosswalk while responding to a call, according to police documents. Auderer, who is trained as a “drug recognition expert” was sent to see if the officer who struck Kandula was impaired, the documents said.
The next day, Auderer’s body-worn camera recorded the phone call in which Auderer discusses what happened. Only Auderer’s side of the conversation can be heard in the footage, which police released Monday.
In the footage, Auderer can be heard explaining how he thinks the victim was hit and then says, “But she is dead.” He laughs, apparently in response to a comment made by the person on the phone. “No, it’s a regular person,” Auderer says. Moments later, he replies, “Yeah, just write a check” and laughs again before adding, “Yeah, $11,000. She was 26 anyway,” incorrectly stating Kandula’s age. “She had limited value.”
Auderer, who is the vice president of the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild, was reportedly speaking to union president Mike Solan, according to the co-chairs of the Seattle Community Police Commission, which provides oversight of the city’s police department. They added that the comments were “heartbreaking and shockingly insensitive.”
CNN has reached out to Auderer, Solan and the Seattle Police Officers Guild for comment.
Auderer has reportedly said his comments about the woman’s value were intended to be a mockery of city lawyers, according to conservative KTTH talk radio host Jason Rantz, who says his show obtained a document in which Auderer self-reported his comments to the police department after realizing they had been recorded.
“I was imitating what a lawyer tasked with negotiating the case would be saying and being sarcastic to express that they shouldn’t be coming up with crazy arguments to minimize the payment,” Auderer wrote in the document, according to Rantz.
Auderer said the comments were “not made with malice,” according to Rantz.
“I do understand that if a citizen were to hear it that they would rightfully believe I was being insensitive to the loss of a human life,” Auderer reportedly wrote.
“The reported explanation that he was mocking lawyers does not make this unprofessional and inhumane conduct any better because it shows … a callous dismissiveness toward police accountability systems,” the community police commission co-chairs said.
The police department said in the Monday statement that the footage was discovered “in the routine course of business by a department employee” and passed through the chain of command to the chief’s office. The footage was referred to the police department’s Office of Police Accountability “for investigation into the context in which those statements were made and any policy violation that might be implicated,” the statement said.
The department “has been in touch with the family of the victim pedestrian and continues to honor their expressed request for privacy. As others in the accountability system proceed with their work, we again extend our deepest sympathy for this tragic collision,” the statement said.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office confirmed to CNN that it is conducting a criminal review of the fatal crash but said the Office of Police Accountability is responsible for investigating Auderer’s body camera footage.
The Indian Consulate General in San Francisco on Wednesday called for a “thorough investigation” into Kandula’s death.
“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,” the consulate wrote on X, previously known as Twitter.
The consulate said it has contacted local authorities and senior officials in Washington, DC, about the case.