Local

‘How can you put money on a life?’: Community calls for resignation of mocking SPD officers

SEATTLE — Members of the South Asian community sat down with Seattle city leaders including Mayor Bruce Harrell and Police Chief Adrian Diaz over the disturbing comments made by an SPD officer moments after the death of 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula.

Kandula was hit and killed by a speeding Seattle Police Department cruiser at the crosswalk off Dexter Avenue North and Thomas Street back in January. Those who sat down with city leaders told us they feel the overall culture of SPD needs to change and officers need to be held accountable for the insensitive comments made by officer Dan Auderer, Vice President of the Seattle Police Officers Guild.

“Yeah, just write a check. Yeah, $11,000 she was 26 anyway she had limited value,” Auderer said in the body camera video.

The group UTSAV believes both Auderer and the union president should not be in their positions of power.

“If they are the ones who are showing their bias, they do not belong in any position of authority. They do not,” Arun Sharma with UTSAV said.

Sharma said they felt both Mayor Harrell and Chief Diaz were understanding of their grief and frustration with the situation; but at the same time, they believe actions speak louder than words.

“Intent is not enough. The impact has to be visible, actionable, measurable. That’s what we want. That’s what we want,” Sharma said.

Saturday afternoon, more than a hundred people gathered at Denny Park to honor the life of Kandula and voice their outrage with SPD over the comments made after her death. They later marched from the park to the crosswalk at Dexter Ave North and Thomas Street where the tragedy took place. They placed flowers, candles, photos, and signs demanding justice.

“How can you put money on a life? How can you call life a mere several dollars?” Vasudha Sharma, President of UTSAV said.

Many in the crowd believe the comments made in the video show a bigger issue with SPD.

“It’s not about culture. It’s a straight-up race issue,” one protester shouted.

Although tensions are high in the city, those who attended the rally felt a sense of community.

“I am there with her. She is here,” V. Sharma said.

Many in Saturday’s crowd hope city leaders hold the officers involved in the video accountable for their actions.

“And we have to hold their feet to the fire now because this is not going to be ok for our kids,” one woman shouted during the rally.

Because they said the fight for justice for Kandula is far from over.

“At least we are all telling the people who think she amounts to nothing. She amounts to nothing. But hey, it is YOU who amount to nothing,” V. Sharma said.

The Office of Police Accountability continues to investigate the body camera video. Those with UTSAV told us while they are happy to sit down with city leadership about the situation, they feel there will be plenty of other meetings ahead.