Seattle Police Officer Investigated for Saying Graduate Student Killed Had ‘Limited Value’ Taken Off Patrol Duty

Detective Daniel Audrerer was caught on bodycam footage saying 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula had "limited value" after an officer struck and killed her

GoFundMe Jaahnavi Kandula, a 23-year-old graduate student, was hit and killed by a police patrol car in Seattle in January
GoFundMe Jaahnavi Kandula, a 23-year-old graduate student, was hit and killed by a police patrol car in Seattle in January

Eight months after Jaahnavi Kandula was hit and killed by a Seattle Police Department (SPD) patrol car, a different police officer has been taken off patrol duty.

Earlier this month, the Seattle Times reported that officer Kevin Dane was driving and responding to a report of an overdose when he hit Kandula, 23, who was crossing the street at a crosswalk. She later died at the hospital from her injuries.

The original SPD report did not identify the officer involved and only shared that they were en route to a “priority one call.”

Following Kandula’s death, another police officer, detective Daniel Auderer, was caught on body-camera footage released by the department joking about the incident.

“She is dead,” Auderer said in the video, before laughing. He could also be heard referring to Kandula as just “a regular person” before saying, “Yeah, just write a check.”

He continued, “$11,000. She was 26 anyway. She had limited value,” he said in the released footage.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Seattle Police Department Chief Adrian Diaz revealed that Auderer has been “administratively assigned to a non operational position, so he’s not on the streets at this time.”

Auderer was identified as the vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG), and the Community Police Commission (CPC), an oversight committee, said in a statement to the Seattle Times and KIRO-TV that Auderer’s comments were “heartbreaking and shockingly insensitive.”

They also noted that the incident “speaks to the concerns that the [CPC] has repeatedly raised about elements of Seattle Police Department culture and SPOG resistance to officer accountability measures.”

“The people of Seattle deserve better from a police department that is charged with fostering trust with the community and ensuring public safety,” the CPC added.

<p>Seattle Police Department/ YouTube</p> Body-camera footage

Seattle Police Department/ YouTube

Body-camera footage

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In a statement obtained by NBC News, Kandula’s family said of the footage, “It is truly disturbing and saddening to hear insensible comments on the bodycam video from an SPD officer regarding Jaahnavi’s death.”

Per the SPD, the bodycam video was discovered by a department employee during a routine course of business and flagged to the Chief’s office before being referred to the Office of Police Accountability for investigation.

“Recognizing the public concern around this video, SPD is putting out this video in the interest of transparency, but consistent with City law, SPD reserves any comment on the substance pending the completion of OPA’s investigation,” the department said in its statement alongside the video.

Their statement went on to say that the SPD “has been in touch with the family of the victim” and that they “extend our deepest sympathy for this tragic collision.”

They added, “Jaahnavi is a beloved daughter and beyond any dollar value for her mother and family. We firmly believe that every human life is invaluable and not be belittled, especially during a tragic loss.”

<p>James Anderson/Alamy</p> Poster marking the spot where a Seattle Police Department patrol car struck and killed 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula in January

James Anderson/Alamy

Poster marking the spot where a Seattle Police Department patrol car struck and killed 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula in January

During the press conference, Diaz said that there’s an “ongoing conversation” between his department and the community in response to the incident.

“It’s important that we have those dialogues,” he said of the conversations.

Following her death, the Northeastern University graduate’s family described her as “brilliant student with a bright future,” per NBC affiliate KING-TV.

The daughter of a single mother, Kandula was obtaining a degree to help improve her family's life back in India, where her mother works as an elementary school teacher and earns less than $200 a month.

"We are truly heartbroken,” the family said.

<p>Seattle Police Department/youtube</p> Daniel Auderer caught on tape saying Jaahnavi Kandula life had limited value

Seattle Police Department/youtube

Daniel Auderer caught on tape saying Jaahnavi Kandula life had limited value

As for the actual collision, Diaz said during the press conference, “Even from the very beginning of the officer-involved collision, I actually had conversations with the family, the uncles, the brothers, the mother,” referring to Kandula’s relatives.

He said the department has “continued to keep them informed and keep them engaged in the process” as they investigate the incident.

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Auderer was the drug-recognition officer assigned to determine whether Dave had been under the influence when he hit Kandula, a graduate of Northeastern University. Auderer determined that Dave was “going 50 [miles an hour],” which was “not out of control” for a driver, which he said on the call to POG President Mike Solan that was caught on bodycam footage.

However, a report released several months later revealed that Dave had actually been driving 74 mph in a 25 mph zone when he hit Kandula while heading to the emergency call, per KIRO-TV.

The report said Dave’s speed “did not allow him sufficient time to detect, address and avoid a hazard that presented itself.”

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