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Shocking! – Seattle officer not charged for killing Bharatiya student Jaahnavi Kandula

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Amid the ongoing series of deaths of Bharatiya nationals living in the United States, a distressing incident has emerged, underscoring what appears to be an unconcerned approach by the Biden administration towards Bharatiya Nationals. The Seattle police officer who struck and killed Jaahnavi Kandula, an Bharatiya student from Hyderabad, will not face any criminal charges due to a “lack of sufficient evidence”.

On 23 January, 2023, Kandula was struck by a police vehicle driven by officer Kevin Dave as she crossed a street in Seattle. Dave was travelling at a speed of 74 mph (over 119 km/h) while rushing to attend a report of a drug overdose. Kandula was thrown 100 feet when she was struck by the speeding police patrol vehicle. The incident became a major diplomatic scuffle, with Bharat demanding an investigation into the officer’s actions.

The King County Prosecutor’s Office decided on Wednesday not to move forward with the case against the officer Kevin Dave. “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,” the King County Prosecuting Attorney said, reported media.

As per media reports, In a memo to Seattle police, prosecutors wrote there was not enough evidence to prove Dave showed “conscious disregard for others’ safety”. The attorney’s office, however, noted that the comments made by Seattle Police Officer Daniel Auderer, recorded on his body-worn video, were “appalling and deeply troubling”.

Officer Auderer, who was not involved in the January collision, was captured in the video saying, “But she is dead” and laughing while on the phone. He continued, “She was 26 anyway. She had limited value”.

Attorney Manion said, “Officer Auderer’s comments were also unprofessional and undermined the public’s trust in the Seattle Police Department and law enforcement in general”.

The officials stated that the bodycam footage did not imply that Dave might have been at fault or that a criminal investigation was necessary. “As egregious as Officer Auderer’s comments are, they do not change the PAO’s legal analysis of 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,”.

As per local media reports, speed was the cause of the collision. Dave was responding to a “priority one” call at the request of the Seattle Fire Department, according to the Seattle Police Department.

The officer did not have his siren activated continuously. Instead, the officer “chirped” his siren at the intersection. He did have his emergency lights on, according to a previous statement from the police department. Kandula was a graduate student at Northeastern University at the Seattle campus. The university said in January 2023 that they would award her degree posthumously and present it to her family.

So, they aren’t punishing him?

According to media reports, it remains possible that city prosecutors will file lesser charges, such as negligent driving. The Seattle City Attorney’s Office’s spokesman, Tim Robinson, said Wednesday that the case had not been referred to them for possible misdemeanour prosecution, and the Seattle Police Department did not immediately respond to an emailed inquiry about whether it might refer the case to that office.

Kandula’s death sparked outrage, particularly after a recording from another officer’s body-worn camera surfaced last September, in which the officer laughs and suggests that Kandula’s life had “limited value” and that the city should “just write a cheque”.

“Officer Auderer’s comments were unprofessional and undermined the public’s trust in the Seattle Police Department and law enforcement in general,” noted attorney Leesa Manion. “As egregious as officer Auderer’s comments are, they do not change the Public Affairs Officer’s (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”.

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