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Why Court Said No Case Against US Cop Who Killed Indian Student

Jaahnavi Kandula is a master’s student in Seattle from Andhra Pradesh.

New Delhi:

On January 23 last year, 23-year-old Indian student Jaanavi Khandula was killed by a speeding police car in Washington state. After a year of legal battles, court proceedings, statements from the Indian and U.S. governments, and accountability, the police officer behind the wheel of the car that hit Kandura will be freed, at least for now. Become.

U.S. prosecutors file criminal charges against Seattle police officer Kevin Dave, who was driving 120 km/h when his patrol car hit Kandura, despite acknowledging impact on local and “worldwide” communities It argued that there was a lack of “sufficient evidence” to do so. , a master’s student in Seattle from Andhra Pradesh.

Body camera footage released by Seattle police shows Officer Daniel Oderer, who was not involved in the crash but was at the scene, denying the need for a criminal investigation and making insensitive comments about Kandura’s age and worth. Before, I laughed cruelly about the fatal collision. .

prosecutor’s verdict

King County Prosecuting Attorney Leesa Mannion expressed concern about Oderer’s comments, calling them “alarming and deeply disturbing.” But she added that while Oderer’s comments were damning, they did not change the legal analysis of Dave’s conduct. Instead, addressing Oderer’s unprofessional conduct falls under the jurisdiction of the Office of Police Accountability (OPA).

Oderer, who was pulled from the patrol in September 2023 and reassigned to a “non-service position,” now faces possible termination pending a disciplinary hearing scheduled for March 4. . The video of Mr. Oderer scathingly discussing Mr. Kandura’s death did more than add fuel to the fire. But questions are being raised about the culture within the Seattle Police Department.

“She was 26 years old anyway,” Oderer said in the video. “Her worth was limited.”

Local media in Seattle reported that speed was the main cause of the collision, as Dave’s high-speed response did not allow enough time for Kandura to see, react to, and avoid the impending danger. Officers did not have their sirens activated continuously, choosing instead to “blare” at intersections. Although emergency lights were on, the continued lack of sirens and excessive speed raised serious questions about the urgency and necessity of such a rapid response.

In a memo to Seattle police, prosecutors argued there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Dave had a “conscious disregard for the safety of others.” The decision not to file criminal charges hinges on the requirement of Washington state law to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Response of local police committee

The Community Policing Commission (CPC) responded to the decision as follows: statement He expressed his condolences to Kandula’s family and the Indian American community. The CPC recognized the limitations of the legal standards applicable to Dave’s actions and questioned at what speed his emergency response could be considered reckless or in disregard of pedestrian safety.

“Officer Dave was driving 114 miles per hour on Dexter Avenue North the night before he struck Mr. Kandura, but prosecutors say his actions were “reckless” under Washington’s vehicular homicide law or “inhibiting the safety of others.” That begs the question: If Officer Dave responded to an emergency, how fast would he have to drive recklessly or without endangering the safety of pedestrians in the area? Is this considered ignored?” A CPC statement was read.

CPC said it is working with the Seattle Police Department on necessary changes to its emergency vehicle operations policy. The CPC called for policies that prioritize lives and avoid putting communities at further risk. Additionally, the CPC is investigating the Seattle Police Department’s practices in responding to Seattle Fire Department drug overdose calls and seeking answers as to why Dave responded to such calls in the first place.

international outrage

Last year, body camera footage of Oderer’s remarks was released, sparking international outrage. Lawmakers in the United States and from the Indian American community condemned the actions seen in the video. Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna expressed regret, saying the lives of all Indian immigrants have infinite value and that anyone who thinks otherwise should not be in law enforcement.

Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal echoed similar sentiments, calling the video horrifying and demanding justice for Kandula’s family. The Consulate General of India in San Francisco expressed concern over the incident and called for a thorough investigation and action against those involved.

The US government assured India of a prompt and fair investigation.

In a letter to the Kandura family, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said Oderer’s comments did not reflect the feelings of the city or the community and asked them to distance themselves from the city.

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