The Seattle Police Officers' Guild defended its official, Daniel Auderer, who joked about the death of a 23-year-old Indian student earlier this year after she was hit by a speeding patrol car.
Despite the fact that the incident occurred in January, bodycam footage released by the Seattle Police Department on Monday shows Auderer mocking the Indian student's death. Protests erupted around the country in response to the video footage, with slogans demanding an end to "police terror."
Jaahnavi Kandula was killed after she was hit by a police vehicle driven by officer Kevin Dave. According to the Seattle Times, he was traveling at 74 mph (more than 119 kmph) on his way to a report of an overdose.
IIn the video, Auderer made fun about the fatal crash and dismissed any inference against Dave. He was heard saying, "Yeah, just write a check. USD 11,000. She was 26 anyway, she had limited value."
US Cop Defends Self
Following the outage, he defended himself saying that his comments were “taken out of context".
In a letter to Gino Betts who is the director of the Office of Police Accountability, Auderer stated that he thought the conversation was private. He added that he was in his patrol car delivering an update to Guild president Mike Solan when the conversation turned to the lawyers discussing "the value of human life."
"What crazy argument can a lawyer make in something like this?"..."I responded with something like, 'She's 26 years old, what value is there, who cares?' I meant the comment as a mockery of lawyers...," he explained. "I was being sarcastic to express that the (lawyers) shouldn't be coming up with crazy arguments to minimize the payement," Auderer wrote.
The Seattle Office of Police Accountability stated that an inquiry into the incident is under way.
"I laughed at the ridiculousness of how these incidents are litigated and... how I have watched these incidents play out as two parties bargain over a tragedy. At the time I believed the conversation was private and not being recorded. The conversation was also not within the course of my duties,” he said.
“I understand that without context, the comment could be interpreted as horrifying and crude. Without context, the comment is insensitive to the family of the victim when in reality I was involved in a conversation regarding the callousness of the legal system. At the time I had no idea who the victim was,” Auderer wrote.
The Guild's statement read "The video captures only one side of the conversation. There is much more detail and nuance that has not been made public yet...SPOG has full confidence that the civilian led police accountability system known as the Office of Police Accountability / OPA will conduct a thorough and fair investigation."
The Consulate General of India in San Francisco on Wednesday termed the handling of Kandula's death in a road accident as "deeply troubling".