SPOG breaks silence on video where SPD officer mocks death of graduate student

SEATTLE — Five days after the release of controversial body camera footage of an SPD officer laughing and joking about the death of 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula, the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) has put out a statement saying that there’s more to the story.

The video was made public by SPD on Monday, showing SPOG Vice President Daniel Auderer speaking to SPOG President Mike Solan, as he detailed the incident where Kandula was hit and killed by Officer Kevin Dave.

Shortly after saying “she’s dead,” Auderer laughs and says “it’s a regular person,” referring to Kandula. He then says “just write a check -- $11,000, she was 26 anyway, she had limited value.”

In the days since, members of the community, local leaders, and even the Indian consulate have expressed outrage over the remarks.

“People want a police force with values that they can trust and that they can rely on, and incidents like this really undermines the communities ability to have faith in them,” said Joel Merkel with the Seattle Community Police Commission.

On Friday, SPOG broke its days-long silence on the video, admitting that “without context, this audio is horrifying and has no place in a civil society.”

“We feel deep sorrow and grief for the family of Jaahnavi Kandula as this video has revictimized them in an already tragic situation as they continue to mourn her death,” the statement continues. “We are truly sorry.”

It goes on to assert that “the video captures only one side of the conversation,” and that “there is much more detail and nuance that has not been made public yet.”

SPOG also shared a statement from Auderer sent to the Office of Police Accountability in early August, which SPOG claims provides “vital contextual information.”

“I intended the comment as a mockery of lawyers – I was imitating what a lawyer tasked with negotiating the case would be saying and being sarcastic to express that they shouldn’t be coming up with crazy arguments to minimize the payment,” Auderer’s letter reads, in part. “I laughed at the ridiculousness of how these incidents are litigated and the ridiculousness of how I have watched these incidents play out as two parties bargain over a tragedy.”

You can read SPOG’s full statement, as well as Auderer’s letter to the OPA, below.