A police officer in United States’ Seattle has been taken off patrol duty after he laughed at the death of an Indian student killed by a police car.
A bodycam footage released two weeks ago showed drug-recognition officer Daniel Auderer joking about Jahnavi Kandula’s death during a conversation with Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan.
Kandula, a graduate student at Seattle’s Northeastern University, was struck by the police car in January.
In his conversation with Solan, Auderer said that the 23-year-old student had “limited value” and the city should “just write a cheque”.
The police department The Seattle Times on Thursday that Auderer, who is also the vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, was taken off patrolling duty and “has been administratively reassigned to a non-operational position”.
This comes after Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability launched an inquiry against him on August 2 after a police department employee, who was reviewing the body camera video for the crash investigation, reported it to a police department lawyer, reported the Associated Press.
On January 23, 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. She died later that night.
Subsequently, Auderer was tasked with determining whether Dave was under the influence of any intoxicating substance. He concluded that his colleague was fit to work.
After footage of Auderer’s comments was widely shared on social media, Seattle’s police watchdog commission recommended on September 20 that he be suspended without pay, reported AP.
It had also urged Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz to “immediately engage in a workgroup” with them, the Office of Police Accountability and the Office of Inspector General to address repeated concerns on policing culture and practices.
The watchdog also said that Auderer has been named in 29 complaints to the Office of Police Accountability since 2014. These complaints include allegations of “policy violations related to bias-free policing, unprofessional conduct and use of force”.
Earlier this month, the Consulate General of India in San Francisco had said that reports on the case were “deeply troubling” and took up the matter with local authorities in Seattle as well as senior officials in Washington DC.