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Cop who mocked Jaahnavi Kandula’s death taken off patrol duty

New York, Sep 29 (IANS) A US cop who joked and laughed in a bodycam video about Indian student Jaahnavi Kandula’s death by a police SUV this year, has been taken off patrol duty, police said.

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) on Thursday confirmed that Officer Daniel Auderer “has been administratively reassigned to a non-operational position”, The Seattle Times reported.

Auderer, a member of the SPD’s traffic squad and vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, came under investigation over a clip from his body camera in which he is heard saying that Kandula’s life had “limited value” and the city should “just write a check”.

The video clip prompted international condemnation with leaders, lawmakers and advocacy groups calling for Audrer’s dismissal from the police service.

Defending himself in a letter to Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) earlier this month, Auderer wrote that the comments were not made with “malice” and hard heart.

Stating that he “lamented” Kandula’s death, he wrote that it was unfortunate that her death would “turn into lawyers arguing ‘the value of human life”.

Following his letter, the SPOG issued a statement saying the conversation has been taken out of context and that Auderer, in a call with Guild President Mike Solan, was mocking attorneys who will try to put a price tag on the young woman’s life.

Last week, the Seattle’s Community Police Commission recommended that the officer under investigation for joking about Kandula’s death be placed on leave and his pay be withheld.

The Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability launched a probe on August 2 after an SPD employee, going through the body camera video for the investigation, was upset by the conversation and reported it to an SPD lawyer.

Kandula, a student of Northeastern University campus in South Lake Union, was hit by a Seattle Police vehicle driven by officer Kevin Dave at a pedestrian crossing on the night of January 23.

Auderer was assigned to see whether Dave was under any influence.

The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case, considering whether to pursue charges against Dave.

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