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News / Northwest

Seattle officer who struck, killed pedestrian in 2023 issued traffic infraction

Police cruiser was going 74 mph when it hit graduate student Jaahnavi Kandula

By Lulu Ramadan, The Seattle Times
Published: March 3, 2024, 1:06pm

The Seattle City Attorney’s Office issued a traffic infraction to a city police officer whose cruiser struck and killed a 23-year-old woman in a South Lake Union crosswalk in January 2023.

The city attorney Friday filed the traffic violation in Seattle Municipal Court against Officer Kevin Dave, whose cruiser was going 74 mph on the way to an overdose call just before it hit Jaahnavi Kandula, a graduate student.

Dave faces a fine of up to $5,000 for the infraction of second-degree negligent driving, according to the city attorney.

The case garnered international attention last year after media revealed recorded remarks by a Seattle police union official who laughed while talking about Kandula’s death at the scene. The union official, Officer Daniel Auderer, can be heard in the recording downplaying the young woman’s death, saying her life had “limited value” and that the city should “just write a check.”

Seattle police commanders in January recommended suspending or firing Auderer for his comments. Auderer will have the opportunity to respond to the disciplinary recommendation at a hearing scheduled for Monday.

Dave will not face criminal charges, according to King County prosecutors, who said a review of the case found no evidence that Dave was impaired or driving recklessly at the time.

An investigation revealed Kandula was walking westbound on Thomas Street at Dexter Avenue North, where construction barriers and an angled sidewalk blocked her view of northbound traffic until she was in the crosswalk.

Dave braked less than a second before hitting Kandula and was still going about 63 mph during the collision, according to a Seattle Police Department report.

“Braking alone was not sufficient to avoid the collision due to the speed” of Dave’s police cruiser, the report reads.

Kandula was from Adoni, a city in southern India, and came to Seattle to study so she could one day support her single mother back home, her family told The Seattle Times. She was on track to graduate in December with a master’s degree in information systems from Northeastern University’s Seattle campus.