Rally in Seattle seeking justice for Jaahnavi Kandula: ‘Absolutely disgusting’
In bodycam footage released on Monday (11) by the SPD, officer Daniel Auderer laughed about the deadly crash and said the victim had ‘limited value’.
Jaahnavi Kandula (Picture: X account/@salonivxrse)
DEMANDING justice for Indian student Jaahnavi Kandula who died in January after getting hit by an overseeding patrol car from the Seattle Police Department (SPD), more than 200 people from different countries on Thursday (14) held a rally at the intersection in the city where the fatal accident took place.
The 23-year-old Kandula, who was studying master’s in Northeastern University’s campus in Seattle, was hit by the car which was driven by officer Kevin Dave when she was crossing a street.
He was driving 74 miles per hour on the way to a report of a drug overdose call.
In bodycam footage released on Monday (11) by the SPD, officer Daniel Auderer laughed about the deadly crash and dismissed any implication Dave might be at fault or that a criminal investigation was necessary.
More than 200 people on Thursday took to the Seattle intersection where Kandula was fatally struck by an officer’s cruiser in January, the Seattle Times newspaper reported.
They called for accountability for the officer who killed her and for a police union leader’s comments about the crash, which some described as “disgusting” and “abhorrent.”
Participants at the rally in South Lake Union called for the resignation of Auderer and the officer who struck Kandula, Dave.
Speakers at the rally criticised the police system, saying it is built on white supremacy, and the criminalising and undervaluing of the lives of Black and Indigenous people and other people of colour, the report added.
Signs read “Jail killer cops,” “Justice for Jaahnavi,” and “End police terror.”
People living in nearby apartments came to join the crowd. Seattle resident Rafael McPeek said he hoped to send a message that police officers can’t get away with killing someone while speeding through city streets or making comments questioning the value of someone’s life. “It’s absolutely disgusting,” said McPeek, a member of the Seattle Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, which organised the rally.
Another rally-goer, Kyla Carrillo, expressed anger at the number of months that have elapsed without accountability for Kandula’s death. Carillo said she remembered attending a protest in January after Kandula was killed, adding that she and others gathered won’t stop until Kandula receives justice and can then rest in peace.
“I don’t understand how many times the Seattle Police Department can show us they don’t care about people’s lives,” she said.
Auderer, the vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, reportedly on a phone call with Union President Mike Solan, appears to talk about what might happen if the victim’s family sued the department.
“Yeah, just write a check. USD 11,000. She was 26 anyway. She had limited value,” Auderer said during the call. In response, Washington governor Jay Inslee said on Thursday, “It’s hard to think of more hurtful things to say to magnify the scope of an already terrible tragedy than what is said in that video.”
“I was heartbroken. I was disgusted,” said Joel Merkel, a co-chair with the Seattle Community Police Commission.
“What the community wants. What the police commission wants is a culture change in SPD.
“The most important thing is that the investigation is done fair and impartially.”
Deepali Jamwal owns a dance studio a block from where the fatal collision happened.
“After he said she is dead, and he laughed, it is haunting me,” said Jamwal.
“I just want everyone to come together and fight for justice for Jaahnavi. She was one of us and this feels too close to home.” The officer who hit and killed Kandula has not been criminally charged. “
The people that are in charge of enforcing the rules are not made accountable when they break them. The system is failing,” said Ray Mitchell, with the Seattle Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.
Kandula was set to graduate this coming December with a master’s degree in information systems. Her family said she was working toward supporting her mother in India. India has taken up Kandula’s case with the US government as well as with local officials in Washington state.
“Recent reports including in the media of the handling of Ms Jaahnavi Kandula’s death in a road accident in Seattle in January are deeply troubling,” the Consulate General of India in San Francisco tweeted on Wednesday.
“We have taken up the matter strongly with local authorities in Seattle & Washington State as well as senior officials in Washington DC for a thorough investigation & action against those involved in this tragic case,” the mission said. The Consulate and the Embassy will continue to closely follow up on this matter with all concerned authorities, it added.
(With PTI inputs)