Jaahnavi Kandula's death: Seattle police officer who struck and killed her will not face criminal charges

On 23 January, 2023, Kevin Dave killed Jaahnavi Kandula, in a crosswalk, on his way to an overdose call

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  22 Feb 2024 1:58 AM GMT
Jaahnavi Kandulas death: Seattle police officer who struck and killed her will not face criminal charges

The Seattle police officer Kevin Dave who had struck and killed Indian student Jaahnavi Kandula while responding to an overdose call, will not face any criminal charges due to lack of "sufficient" evidence.

On 23 January, 2023, Kevin Dave struck and killed Jaahnavi Kandula, 23, in a crosswalk. Dave was driving 74 mph (119 kmh) on the way to an overdose call, and Daniel Auderer, a drug recognition expert, was assigned to evaluate whether Dave was impaired. Kandula was thrown 100 feet when she was struck by the speeding police patrol vehicle.

Earlier on Wednesday, the King County Prosecutor’s Office said they will not move forward with criminal charges against Seattle Police Officer Kevin Dave, as reported by FOX13 Seattle.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the King County Prosecuting Attorney said, "Kandula’s death is heartbreaking and impacted communities in King County and across the world." King County Prosecuting Attorney Leesa Manion said that she believes they lack the evidence to prove a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt, the report added.

"It is the responsibility of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to review all available evidence relating to the case involving Seattle Police Officer Kevin Dave and the January 2023 collision death of Jaahnavi Kandula. After staffing this case with senior deputy prosecuting attorneys and office leadership, I have determined that we lack sufficient evidence under Washington State law to prove a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt," the statement said.

The statement also spoke on Daniel Auderer and said that the comments made by him "appalling and deeply troubling." "Officer Auderer’s comments were also unprofessional and undermined the public’s trust in the Seattle Police Department and law enforcement in general," said Manion.

In bodycam footage released by the Seattle Police Department, Officer Daniel Auderer laughed about the deadly crash and dismissed any implication Dave might be at fault or that a criminal investigation was necessary. Auderer, in the video, was heard saying, "Yeah, just write a cheque. USD 11,000. She was 26 anyway, she had limited value."

Meanwhile, Auderer was pulled from patrol in September 2023 and reassigned to a "non-operational position." He could still be fired after the fallout of his insensitive comments captured on bodycam.

Auderer's chain of command and the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) found he acted unprofessionally. For that, he faces the highest disciplinary range of nearly two weeks suspension up to termination, according to a disciplinary action report. Before a final disciplinary decision, Auderer will have the chance to meet with Police Chief Adrian Diaz to disagree. His disciplinary hearing is scheduled for March 4, K5 News reported.

As per Seattle local media, the speed was the cause of the collision, as the speed at which Dave was travelling did "not allow (Kandula) or him sufficient time to detect, address and avoid a hazard that presented itself." The Seattle Police Department said that Dave was responding to a "priority one" call at the request of the Seattle Fire Department. According to the police report, the officer was responding to a report of a drug overdose and the officer did not have his siren activated continuously. He, instead, "chirped" his siren at the intersection and have his emergency lights on, according to a previous statement from the police department. A drug recognition expert responded to the scene and found no impairment in the officer.

Kandula was pursuing her master's degree at Northeastern University in Seattle and went to the US in 2021 from Bengaluru on a student exchange program.

Inputs from PTI

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