India on Wednesday urged the United States to carry out a thorough investigation after a video on social media showed a police officer laughing at the death of an Indian student after being hit by a speeding police car in Seattle.
The Consulate General of India in San Francisco said that reports on the case were “deeply troubling”. The mission said that it had taken up the matter with local authorities in Seattle as well as senior officials in the capital city of Washington DC. The consulate general called for action against those involved and said it will closely follow up on the matter.
Following this, the US government has assured the Indian government of swift investigation, PTI reported. Senior officials in the US administration have told India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu and the Indian government that they are taking the case very seriously.
On January 23, the student, 23-year-old Jahnavi Kandula, was hit by a car being driven by a police officer named Kevin Dave, who was on his way to look into a case of an overdose. The police officer was said to have been driving at 119 kilometres per hour, and Kandula was thrown over 100 feet due to the impact, according to The Seattle Times. She died later that night.
Subsequently, a drug-recognition officer named Daniel Auderer was tasked with determining whether Dave was under the influence of any intoxicating substance. He concluded that his colleague was fit to work. He then called Mike Solan, the president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, and the two spoke for about two minutes.
During the conversation, Auderer had inadvertently kept his body camera running and the footage was released on Monday. Solan is inaudible in the footage.
In a video clip that was widely shared on social media, Auderer was heard laughing about the crash and saying that Kandula had “limited value” owing to her age.
“No, it’s a regular person,” the officer continued. “Yeah, just write a cheque...$11,000.”
The Seattle Police Department in a statement said that the video was identified by an employee “in the routine course of business”.
Kandula, a master’s student from Andhra Pradesh, was pursuing a degree at Seattle’s Northeastern University.
Student’s family questions delay in releasing video
Her family on Thursday questioned why the bodycam footage was released months after her death, reported NDTV. Her grandfather said that her parents are deeply distressed by the video that has added to trauma and depression her mother continues to face.
“This makes it worse,” Kandula’s grandfather said. “How can anyone speak like that after a tragic accident? Why wasn’t this information revealed earlier? We have lost our child but this is beyond shocking.”
Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said the video is appalling. “I hope to see justice for Jaahnavi Kandula’s family and accountability for those involved,” she added.
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell in a letter to the Kandula’s family said that the comments made by the officer do not reflect the feelings of the city.
“We recognise that Jaahnavi’s death is a loss for our whole community – the loss of a young woman who had so much life ahead of her to do amazing things and share that joy with loved ones,” Harrell said.
Several social media users expressed shock at the way Auderer reacted to Kandula’s death.