SPD oversight group demands officer under investigation for viral bodycam comments be put on leave

Seattle's Community Police Commission (CPC) is urging Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz to put an officer on unpaid leave indefinitely following comments he made on body cam footage that appears to mock the death of a woman who was hit and killed by another officer earlier this year. 

The video was released last week. In it, SPD Det. Daniel Auderer can be heard saying: "She is dead," he then laughs. "No, it’s a regular person—yeah, yeah, just write a check, just, yeah," he laughs again, "$11,000. She was 26 anyway, she had limited value."

The woman he was referring to was 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula, a Northeastern University student who was struck in a crosswalk while police were responding to an overdose in the area. The officer behind the wheel was going 74 mph in a 25-mph zone.

"The comments reflected are just a shocking and callous disregard for certain members of our community," said CPC co-chair Joel Merkel.


VIDEO: Seattle police officer laughs about woman hit, killed by patrol car

Authorities are investigating after shocking body cam video showed how one Seattle Police officer reacted to the death of a woman hit and killed by a patrol car during an emergency response.

Merkel told FOX 13 that several questions remain unanswered about the officer in question, including whether he has been placed on leave or not.

"Given the nature of his comments and how strongly the community feels about this, I think they do want to know what his status is," said Merkel. "I think they do want to know that someone like that is not on the street."

To address those concerns, CPC sent a letter to Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz.

In it, the organization urges the police chief to put Auderer on unpaid leave indefinitely. The letter also recommends that Diaz participate in a work group to address the possible culture of bias within the SPD.

You can read the full letter here. 

It should be noted that per Seattle Police Officers Guild union regulations, officers cannot be placed on unpaid leave. They can, however, be placed on paid administrative leave. 

The CPC letter also raised questions about the "apparent conflict of interest" in having Auderer, a guild official, investigating a rank-and-file officer that the guild is sworn to protect and represent.

Similar concerns were raised by the Seattle City Council on Monday.

FOX 13 reached out to SPD for comment regarding the letter.

In an email, a spokesperson said the department had no further comment beyond the initial statement released along with the video last week, adding it is reserving comment pending the completion of the Office of Police Accountability investigation.

Their initial statement, in part, read: 

"The following video was identified in the routine course of business by a department employee, who, concerned about the nature of statements heard on that video, appropriately escalated their concerns through their chain of command to the Chief’s Office which, following a review of the video, referred the matter to OPA for investigation into the context in which those statements were made and any policy violation that might be implicated.  This is what department policy and the City’s Accountability Ordinance require." 

You can read the full statement here. 

According to CPC, Auderer has had 29 OPA complaints since 2014, which included allegations of violations of policy and use of force. The city of Seattle has paid $2 million in total for settlements involving alleged misconduct by Auderer, CPC says.