SPD officer that hit and killed Jaahnavi Kandula in crosswalk will not face charges

SEATTLE — The King County Prosecutor’s Office will not move forward with criminal charges against Seattle Police Officer Kevin Dave in the Jan. 2023 death of Jaahnavi Kandula.

In a statement released Wednesday, the King County Prosecuting Attorney said the following:

“Ms. Kandula’s death is heartbreaking and impacted communities in King County and across the world.

It is the responsibility of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (PAO) 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 PAO finds the comments made by Seattle Police Officer Daniel Auderer, and recorded on his body-worn video, appalling and deeply troubling. Officer Auderer’s comments were also unprofessional and served to undermine the public’s trust in the Seattle Police Department and law enforcement in general. As egregious as Officer Auderer’s comments are, they do not change the PAO’s legal analysis into the conduct of Officer Dave. It is the Office of Police Accountability that bears the responsibility of disciplinary investigation and proceedings relating to Officer Auderer’s comment, not the PAO.”

Officer Kevin Dave hit and killed Kandula with his police cruiser while the 23-year-old student was crossing the street in a marked crosswalk on Jan. 23, 2023.

Dave was driving 74 miles an hour without continuously running his siren while responding to a drug overdose call, on a street with a speed limit of 25 miles an hour.

“It’s an unbelievably, unacceptable finding,” said Robert Engel with the Seattle Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. “Anyone, I don’t care who you are. If you’re doing 74 in a 25, you’re going straight to jail. Much less if you kill somebody.”

Despite traveling at a high speed, King County Prosecutors say negligence alone cannot be pursued for felony charges.

For there to be felony charges, prosecutors say they would have to prove that Officer Dave was consciously disregarding safety. They did have enough evidence to prove that in this case.

“Disregard for the safety of others, which is what we would have to prove for a felony is more than negligence,” said Casey McNerthney with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. “If somebody is negligent and causes most catastrophic consequences, the courts have been clear that it’s still not a felony crime in Washington State.”

Months later, footage was released of Seattle Police Officers Guild Vice President Daniel Auderer joking about Kandula’s death over the phone with SPOG President Mike Solan.

In that recording, Auderer can be heard laughing as he referred to Kandula as “a regular person,” going on to say, “Just write a check -- $11,000, she was 26 anyway, she had limited value.”

We reached out to Kandula’s family. They sent the following statement:

We are shocked and disappointed that the King County Prosecutor’s office has failed to criminally charge the Seattle police officer whose reckless behavior killed Jaahnavi Kandula. She was a college student, who did nothing wrong. The officer was speeding and going on 74 miles per hour on a street (construction zone) with a speed limit of 25 mph. It was dark and he did not use his siren. Jaanhavi was in a marked crosswalk when she was struck.

We are pursuing our legal rights to obtain justice for Jaahnavi even though the city of Seattle has failed to do so.

We also reached out to SPD. They sent this statement:

As the criminal investigation has closed, an Office of Police Accountability investigation can now continue. We are prohibited on commenting on the OPA case while it is ongoing.