SEATTLE (AP) — A Seattle police officer and union leader under investigation for laughing and making insensitive comments about the death of a woman from India who was struck by a police SUV has been removed from patrol duty, police said.
The Seattle Police Department confirmed Thursday that traffic officer Daniel Auderer has been “administratively moved to a non-operational position,” according to the Seattle Times reported. The reassignment information comes a week after a police watchdog group called on Auderer to do so suspended without pay. It was not immediately clear when Auderer was removed from traffic duty and assigned to another duty.
Auderer, vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, has been under investigation since body camera footage was released showing him laughing and joking during a phone call with union president Mike Solan. The call came in the hours after another officer, Kevin Dave, struck and killed 23-year-old student Jaahnavi Kandula in his police SUV on Jan. 23 as she crossed a street.
Dave was driving at 74 miles per hour (119 km/h) in a 25 mile per hour (40 km/h) zone when he went to a drug overdose call. According to a detective report, he began braking less than a second before impacting Kandula. According to the report, Dave was traveling at 63 miles per hour (101 km/h) when he hit the woman and his speed did not allow Kandula or Dave enough time to “identify, address and avoid an impending danger.”
The SUV’s emergency lights activated and Dave “chirped” his siren at other intersections and used them immediately before the collision, the report said, adding that Kandula was thrown 138 feet (42 meters).
The King County Prosecutor’s Office is conducting a criminal investigation into the crash.
Auderer left his body camera on during his call to Solan after he left the scene of an accident he had been called to to determine if Dave was impaired.
Only Auderer can be heard in the recording released by the police. He downplays the accident and falsely claims that Dave was driving 50 miles per hour at the time. He is then heard laughing and calling Kandula a “normal person.” He also suggests that Kandula’s life has “limited value” and the city should simply write a check for $11,000.
Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability opened an investigation on August 2 after a police department employee reviewing body camera video for the crash investigation reported it to a police department attorney.
Auderer’s comments were sentenced Local and international. Police Chief Adrian Diaz said he has met with representatives from the Indian and Asian communities regarding the matter.
The Seattle Police Officers Guild said in a statement that the recorded conversation was taken out of context and that the two men joked about how the city’s lawyers could try to minimize liability for Kandula’s death.