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Indian student Jaahnavi Kandula Murder Case: US police officer who killed her freed by the Court

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In a shocking turn of event the Seattle police officer who struck and killed Indian student Jaahnavi Kandula while responding to an overdose call, will not face any criminal charges due to lack of “sufficient” evidence.

On Wednesday, the King County Prosecutor’s Office said they will not move forward with criminal charges against Seattle Police Officer Kevin Dave, FOX13 Seattle reported. In a statement released Wednesday, the King County Prosecuting Attorney said, “Kandula’s death is heartbreaking and impacted communities in King County and across the world.”

Jaahnavi Kandula, a 23-year-old Indian student, was killed after being hit by a speeding police vehicle in the US state of Washington on January 23 last year, when she was crossing a street in Seattle. The Police cop was driving at 74 mph (more than 119 kmh) on the way to a report of a drug overdose call. Kandula was thrown 100 feet when she was struck by the speeding police patrol vehicle.

After a year of legal battles, court proceedings, statements from both the Indian and US governments, and calls for accountability, the police officer behind the wheels of the vehicle that ran over Ms Kandula will walk free, at least for now.

In bodycam footage released by the Seattle Police Department, Officer Daniel Auderer laughed about the deadly crash and dismissed any implication Dave might be at fault or that a criminal investigation was necessary.

King County Prosecuting Attorney Leesa Manion said that she believes they lack the evidence to prove a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt, the report added.

Last year, the release of bodycam footage featuring Auderer’s remarks triggered international outrage. Lawmakers, both in the United States and among the Indian-American community, condemned the behavior displayed in the video. Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna expressed his dismay, stating that every Indian immigrant’s life has infinite value, and anyone thinking otherwise should not be in law enforcement.

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. She was 26 anyway,” Auderer said in the video. “She had limited value.”

Auderer was pulled from patrol in September 2023 and reassigned to a “non-operational position.” Auderer could still be fired after the fallout of his insensitive comments captured on bodycam.

“Officer Auderer’s comments were also unprofessional and undermined the public’s trust in the Seattle Police Department and law enforcement in general,” said Manion. “As egregious as Officer Auderer’s comments are, they do not change the 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.”

Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal echoed the sentiment, calling the video appalling and demanding justice for Ms Kandula’s family. The Consulate General of India in San Francisco raised concerns over the incident, seeking a thorough investigation and action against those involved.

Indian Consulate ‘strongly’ raises Jaahnavi Kandula’s case with US authorities

The Indian consulate in Seattle said that it has “strongly” raised the issue of Indian student Jaahnavi Kandula’s killing in the US with the city police and the case is now being referred to Seattle City Attorney’s office for review.

The move comes after the King’s County Prosecutor’s Office said on Wednesday that they will not be pressing charges against Seattle Police Officer Kevin Dave, who ran over and killed Kandula, last year due to “lack of sufficient evidence”.

In a statement posted on X on Friday, the Indian Consulate said that they are awaiting the “completion of Seattle Police’s administrative investigation and will continue to monitor progress in the case”.

“We have also raised the matter strongly with local authorities, including Seattle Police for appropriate redress. The case has now been referred to Seattle City Attorney’s office for review,” the Consulate said.

In addition, the Consulate said that it is in “regular touch with the designated family representatives and will continue to extend all possible support in ensuring justice for Jaahnavi and her family”.

Hindu Group CoHNA expresses SHOCK

A top Hindu advocacy group in the US has said that it is “shocking” and “disheartening” to see that the investigation into the killing of Indian student Jaahnavi Kandula is dismissed with no charges against those who struck her.

Hindu advocacy group, Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA) said on Friday (local time) that it is “doubly shocking that such serious violations of civil rights of Hindus of different backgrounds and ages do not even merit any restorative justice.”

“It is shocking and disheartening to see the investigation into the killing of #JaahnaviKandula be dismissed with no charges against those who struck her. Where is #justice for the family of this young international student, run over in a #Seattle sidewalk by a police car?” CoHNA said in a post on X.

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