Nearly 100 protest outside SPD precinct over decision not to charge officer in death of Jaahnavi Kandula

Nearly 100 gathered outside the Seattle Police West Precinct to protest a decision by the King County Prosecutor's Office not to file charges against Officer Kevin Dave, who struck and killed 23-year-old grad student Jaahnavi Kandula.  

The announcement not to file charges was made earlier this week. 

Protesters say there has been a lack of accountability for the officer. Speakers at Friday's protest accused officers of caring more about themselves than the public, and treating Kandula as if her life didn't matter.  

"They are not public safety, they are a public hazard," shouted one of the protesters.  

"I struggle to understand how these people can go about their day, knowing that they refused to even let this go to court. It's baffling, said Raymond Mitchell, another protester.  

Members of the group say they felt compelled to speak out.

"We are beyond disappointed. This is unacceptable. You are not doing your job. You need to hold these people accountable," said Mitchell.

Officer Dave was driving 74 mph in a 25 mph zone on Jan. 23, 2023, speeding through red lights on the way to a high-priority overdose call. Kandula was walking along a crosswalk at Dexter Ave N and Thomas St. when Dave fatally struck her and sent her 138 feet down the street. Dave was then seen on body camera calling dispatch for help and performing CPR on the deceased Kandula.


Seattle Police officer not charged in death of Jaahnavi Kandula who was hit in crosswalk

The Seattle police officer who struck and killed 23-year-old grad student Jaahnavi Kandula will not face charges, the King County Prosecutor's Office announced Wednesday.

Kandula's family issued a statement following the announcement:

"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 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."

Former Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist says if a civilian were behind the wheel, this would likely have been vehicular homicide. Dave's status as an officer changes the calculus.

"Any civilian going three times the speed limit who kills a pedestrian is going to be prosecuted. However, under the law, officers have extra protection because they have extra duties. Here the officer was on a priority one call and therefore was within his protocol to be speeding," argued Lindquist. "Seattle Police Department policies may be more to blame here than the officer driving."

King County Prosecuting Attorney Leesa Manion announced in a statement Wednesday she believes they lack the evidence to prove a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Lindquist pointed out that the standard of proof is so much higher in criminal cases than civil.

"This is a horrible tragedy and people want accountability, understandably," remarked Lindquist. "One of the things to keep in mind, though, is there's a vast difference between a civil lawsuit and a criminal prosecution. This is a slam-dunk civil lawsuit."

The Prosecutor's Office walked through this report with Kandula's family.

"Ms. Kandula’s death is heartbreaking and impacted communities in King County and across the world," reads a statement from Manion. "It is the responsibility of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office 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."