Seattle police union responds to outrage over officer saying a woman run over by police ‘had limited value’

The Seattle Police Officers Guild said Friday that there is “much more detail and nuance” to bodycam footage released this week that captures one of its leaders saying the life of a woman who was killed by another officer “had limited value.”

In the body camera footage released Monday by the Seattle Police Department, Officer Daniel Auderer, who is the vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, laughs and suggests the city should “just write a check” after a marked patrol vehicle driven by Officer Kevin Dave struck and killed Jaahnavi Kandula in a crosswalk on Jan. 23. Dave was driving 74 mph on the way to a “priority one call” when he hit Kandula, 23, and Auderer was assigned to evaluate whether Dave was impaired, according to a police investigation report.

“Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26 anyway,” Auderer’s body camera captured him saying in a call to the guild’s president, Mike Solan, misstating Kandula’s age. “She had limited value.”

The recording did not capture Solan’s remarks.

Auderer’s comments have drawn outrage in Seattle, where some residents protested Thursday night to demand justice for Kandula.

“The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild understands the attention and outrage surrounding the viral video which captures highly insensitive comments regarding the death of Jaahnavi Kandula by Officer Dan Auderer,” the guild said in a statement. “Without context, this audio is horrifying and has no place in a civil society. It sullens the profession of law enforcement, the reputation of all Seattle Police officers and paints Seattle in a terrible light. We feel deep sorrow and grief for the family of Jaahnavi Kandula as this video has revictimized them in an already tragic situation as they continue to mourn her death. We are truly sorry.”

A vigil for Jaahnavi Kandula, the 23-year-old woman who was hit and killed by a marked Seattle Police Department vehicle.A vigil for Jaahnavi Kandula, the 23-year-old woman who was hit and killed by a marked Seattle Police Department vehicle.KING

In addition to its statement, the guild released a statement it says Auderer wrote to the director of the Office of Police Accountability in August — more than six months after Kandula was killed — after being told of the video’s existence. The guild said he wrote the statement “directly from memory and without the ability to watch the video.”

In it, Auderer said that his comments were “sarcastic” and intended to mimic how a lawyer tasked with negotiating a settlement over Kandula’s death might try to minimize liability for it.

“Mike Solan asked me as he was lamenting the loss of life something similar to: ‘What crazy argument can a lawyer make in something like this? What crazy thing can they come up with.’ I responded with something like: ‘She’s 26 years old, what value is there, who cares.’ I intended the comment as a mockery of lawyers — 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,” he wrote in the statement. “I laughed at the ridiculousness of how these incidents are litigated and the ridiculousness of 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.”

He said he knew the comment without context could be “interpreted as horrifying and crude” but said it “was not made with malice or a hard heart, quite the opposite.”

He also requested “rapid adjudication” of his case and said that he was willing “to accept any reasonable discipline our accountability partners and the Chief of Police wish to hand down.”

Auderer, Solan and the guild did not return NBC News’ repeated requests for comment this week.

Kandula’s family previously told NBC News, “We firmly believe that every human life is invaluable and not be belittled, especially during a tragic loss.”

In a statement Monday, the Seattle Police Department said it learned of the conversation from an employee who listened to it “in the routine course of business.” That employee was “concerned about the nature of statements” and took their concerns through their chain of command to the chief’s office.

The office of Chief Adrian Diaz referred the matter to the accountability office, as department policy and the city’s accountability ordinance require, the statement said.

The police department said the accountability office, which investigates police misconduct and recommends discipline to the police chief, is investigating “the context in which” the statements were made and whether any policies had been violated.

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