MEMBERS of the south Asian community in Seattle held a rally on the site where Indian student Jaahnavi Kandula was fatally hit by a speeding police patrol car, demanding jail for police officers responsible for her death.
Kandula, 23, was struck by a police vehicle driven by Officer Kevin Dave when she was crossing a street on January 23. He was driving 74 mph (more than 119 kmh) on the way to a report of a drug overdose call.
In bodycam footage released on Monday (11) 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.
More than 100 members of the Seattle area’s south Asian community gathered at Denny Park on Saturday (16) and made their way to the intersection where Kandula was hit.
They held signs saying Jaahnavi had more value than Seattle Police Department and Justice for Jaahnavi, jail killer cops. The rally was put together by UTSAV, which means festival or celebration, an organisation based in Bothell that helps connect south Asians with their communities.
Video from the night of the crash has sparked international outrage over the officer’s comments.
On Saturday, rally attendees pointed out that Kandula’s life did have value.
Shifali Jamwal, who brought her three-year-old son, said Kandula was a master’s student and moved to America for her education so her life would have more value.
“I can only imagine what Jaahnavi’s mom is going through,” Jamwal said.
Another attendee, Kyla Carrillo, 25, called Auderer’s comments completely disrespectful.
“Not even unbelievable, not shocking, but just for [him] to value somebody’s life as such was disrespectful,” she said.
Between lanes at the intersection, marchers lit tealights spelling out Jaahnavi and laid bouquets underneath a sign.
Kandula was set to graduate this coming December with a master’s degree in information systems from the Seattle campus of Northeastern University. Her family said she was working toward supporting her mother in India.
Kenneth W. Henderson, Chancellor of Northeastern University in a statement issued on the varsity’s official Facebook page on Friday said: “Her loss will be felt deeply by students, staff, and faculty. The university plans to award Jaahnavi her degree posthumously and present it to her family.”
Community members met Seattle’s mayor and police chief regarding the release of the footage.
They said they do not endorse eliminating police, but that Seattle must improve training, and stay engaged with the south Asian community.