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Jaahnavi Kandula Death: Seattle Police Officer Escapes Criminal Charges

Jaahnavi Kandula

Seattle, Washington: In a decision that has sparked outrage and disappointment, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office announced that they will not pursue criminal charges against Seattle Police Officer Kevin Dave, who was involved in the tragic incident resulting in the death of Indian graduate student Jaahnavi Kandula.

The Incident

On January 23, 2023, Officer Kevin Dave struck Jaahnavi Kandula while responding to a drug overdose call. Kandula, a student at Northeastern University, tragically lost her life in the collision. The incident occurred at an intersection where Officer Dave had activated his emergency lights. Witnesses reported hearing his siren, but the police vehicle was traveling at a speed exceeding 119 km/hour.

Lack of Sufficient Evidence on the Death of Jaahnavi Kandula

The decision not to pursue criminal charges was based on several factors outlined in the prosecutor’s memo to the Seattle Police Department. These factors included:

  1. Emergency Lights: Officer Dave had activated his emergency lights.
  2. Witness Accounts: Witnesses reported hearing the siren.
  3. Kandula’s Actions: Kandula appeared to have attempted to cross the intersection upon noticing the approaching vehicle.
  4. Wireless Earbuds: There was a suggestion that Kandula may have been wearing wireless earbuds, potentially impairing her ability to hear the approaching sirens.

The prosecutors concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Dave consciously disregarded safety, which precluded a charge of vehicular homicide.

Jaahnavi Kandula Family’s Reaction

Jaahnavi Kandula’s family expressed profound sorrow and indignation in response to the prosecutor’s ruling. They felt deeply let down by the legal system and asserted that Officer Dave’s conduct demonstrated blatant recklessness and negligence. While criminal charges were ruled out, the possibility of lesser charges, such as negligent driving, remains. However, as of now, the case has not been referred to the city prosecutor’s office for potential misdemeanor prosecution.

Outrage Over Insensitive Remarks

Kandula’s death sparked widespread outrage, particularly after a recording from another officer’s body camera revealed callous remarks about the incident. Officer Daniel Auderer, Vice President of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, was heard making disparaging comments, suggesting that Kandula’s life had “limited value” and proposing a monetary settlement. Indian diplomats and local protesters have demanded accountability and an investigation into Officer Auderer’s remarks.

The tragic loss of Jaahnavi Kandula serves as a stark reminder of the need for transparency, accountability, and justice within law enforcement.

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