from the end-result-of-indemnification dept
You hate to see it. But you know it’s always there. And it’s not even hidden below the surface. It’s right there on top: the disdain expressed by law enforcement officers for the people they’re supposed to be serving.
If you believe the people you swore to serve and protect are worth less than the so-called protectors and servers, that sentiment will continue to bubble to the top, even when the servers/protectors are (or, at least should be) aware their comments are being recorded.
That’s how you end up making the worst sort of headlines. And that’s how you end up saying the quiet part out loud while dealing with the aftermath of a seemingly preventable tragedy. Here’s Mike Carter, reporting for the Seattle Times:
A Seattle police watchdog agency is investigating rank-and-file union leaders over body-camera audio in which they laugh, joke about and downplay the death of a young woman struck by a police cruiser, suggesting her life had “limited value” and that the city should “just write a check.”
Officer Daniel Auderer, vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, inadvertently left his body camera running after responding Jan. 23 to South Lake Union, where another officer, Kevin Dave, struck and killed Jaahnavi Kandula while driving 74 mph on the way to a report of an overdose.
There are a few things worth noting here beyond the obvious. First off, it’s police union reps that act as first responders when officers kill civilians. This is the first — and most powerful — CYA move. The rep shows up and immediately starts advising the officer of his considerable number of rights while ensuring no one says anything incriminating during the first stages of the investigation.
In this case, the investigation involved Officer Kevin Dave and Jaahnavi Kandula, whose body was thrown more than 100 feet when she was hit by Officer Dave and his fast-moving cruiser. The union rep was there for multiple reasons — both self-serving (in terms of the Seattle PD and its officers). First, he was the primary legal contact for Officer Dave. Second, he was (somehow!) allowed to determine whether or not the officer was impaired when he killed the young woman.
And this is what the union VP/exoneration professional had to say following his examination of Officer Dave:
Only Auderer’s side of the conversation is audible in the body-camera footage released Monday. In the conversation, he laughs about the deadly crash and dismisses any implication the officer might be at fault or that a criminal investigation was necessary.
He also laughed several times, saying at one point: “Yeah, just write a check.”
“Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26 anyway,” Auderer said, misstating the victim’s age. “She had limited value.”
It’s clear Auderer only had the details he wanted at this point. He misstated the victim’s age. And he suggested her life (at least at the supposed ripe old age of 26) was only worth an $11,000 payout from the city. At no point did he suggest Officer Dave might have been careless in his high-speed response to a call better handled by medical professionals, rather than a cop who decided his route from point A to point B should run through the body of a Seattle resident.
Here’s the edited video containing the comments Auderer made when he “accidentally” left his body camera running:
Now, Auderer is saying his comments were “taken out of context,” and that he was simply being cynical about the state of fiscal justice when it comes to victims of police violence.
The officer turned himself in for a comment he made when his bodycam was accidentally turned on. It sounded like he was mocking a victim in a fatal crash, prompting fears the comments would be taken out of context to attack the Seattle Police Department (SPD). Those fears intensified thanks to what’s being described as a “leak” of the content to media members who are hypercritical of police.
Well, kudos for self-reporting, but the full video doesn’t make the point Auderer hopes it makes. In the full video, posted to X by Jason Rantz of KTTH Radio, the comments made by Audrerer both deny the obvious facts and downplay the significance of the incident. And that’s all before he makes the callous suggestion the dead woman was only worth $11,000.
The video contains Auderer misstating facts. First, he says the officer was only driving 50 mph, which is “not reckless for a trained driver.” Then he says he doesn’t believe the woman was “thrown 40 feet.” He then admits “but she is dead.” This is followed by laughter. Then this chilling statement: “No, it’s a regular person.”
Given this context, it’s hard to believe Auderer wasn’t minimizing the death caused by Officer Dave’s reckless driving. In fact, it gives the opposite impression: that Audrerer was minimizing everything about this: the speed the officer was driving, the distance the victim was thrown by the impact, and, finally the value of a human life formerly possessed by someone who was nothing more (in Auderer’s eyes) than a “regular person.”
Then there’s the fact that Auderer didn’t actually self-report this incident. Or, at least, he didn’t until after he was reported by another SPD officer. This is from the Seattle PD’s own website, which appears to state that the recording was reported by another officer first, prompting an internal investigation:
The following video was identified in the routine course of business by a department employee, who, concerned about the nature of statements heard on that video, appropriately escalated their concerns through their chain of command to the Chief’s Office which, following a review of the video, referred the matter to OPA for investigation into the context in which those statements were made and any policy violation that might be implicated.
Now, it could be Auderer is the “department employee.” But there’s nothing in the statement indicating that. From what’s published at the SPD blotter, it definitely appears that someone else saw it first, and Auderer’s “self-reporting” was after the fact.
While Jason Rantz continues to engage in vigorous police apologetics (as though powerful government agencies really need an assist from local reporters), declaring this to be some sort of triumph of police accountability, the full video shows exactly the same thing the edited version does: that cops place less value on the lives of the people they serve than they place on their own job security.
Auderer was right to self-report (if that’s even what happened), but despite his apologies (and this particular journalist’s backing), he’s not in the right. Nor is he simply the victim of limited context. He said what he said and it’s all on tape. And what he said is what he meant: cutting a check is better than engaging in actual accountability.
Filed Under: daniel auderer, jaahnavi kandula, kevin dave, seattle, seattle pd, seattle police officers guild
Source : https://www.techdirt.com/2023/09/18/police-union-vp-says-woman-killed-by-cop-is-only-worth-11000/