Why No Case Against US Cop Who Killed Indian Student – Explained

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Jaahnavi Kandula, a 23-year-old Indian student, lost her life after being hit by a speeding police vehicle in Washington on January 23, 2022. 

The police officer behind the wheel, Kevin Dave, was driving at 120 kmph when the collision occurred. Despite the impact on communities locally and globally, a US prosecutor claimed there was insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges against Officer Dave.

The incident was captured on bodycam footage released by the Seattle Police. Another officer, Daniel Auderer, who was not involved in the collision but was present at the scene, callously laughed about the deadly crash and made insensitive comments about Kandula’s age and value. 

Auderer’s remarks were condemned by King County Prosecuting Attorney Leesa Manion as “appalling and deeply troubling.” However, the decision not to press criminal charges against Officer Dave was based on legal analysis separate from Auderer’s conduct.

Prosecutors argued that there was not enough evidence to prove that Officer Dave showed a “conscious disregard for others’ safety.” 

The decision not to press charges is in line with Washington State law’s requirement to prove a case beyond any reasonable doubt. The lack of continuous activation of the siren, along with the excessive speed, raised questions about the urgency and necessity of Officer Dave’s high-speed response.

Community Response:

The Community Police Commission (CPC) expressed condolences to Kandula’s family and the Indian American community. The CPC acknowledged the limitations of the legal standard applied to Officer Dave’s conduct and questioned at what speed an emergency response would be deemed reckless or disregarding the safety of pedestrians. The CPC is working with Seattle Police on policy changes and investigating the practice of responding to drug overdose calls.

International Outrage:

The release of bodycam footage featuring Auderer’s callous remarks triggered international outrage. Indian-American lawmakers, including Congressman Ro Khanna and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, condemned the behaviour displayed in the video. 

The Consulate General of India in San Francisco raised concerns over the incident and sought a thorough investigation and action against those involved.

Government Assurances:

The US government assured India of a quick and fair investigation into the incident. Seattle City Mayor Bruce Harrell, in a letter to the Kandula family, distanced the city from Auderer’s comments, stating that they do not reflect the feelings of the city or its communities.

Despite the concerns raised by various stakeholders, Officer Dave will not face criminal charges at this time. 

The case highlights broader questions about police conduct, emergency response policies, and the need for accountability in such tragic incidents.