Police Union VP Says Woman Killed By Cop Is Only Worth $11,000

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.

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Comments on “Police Union VP Says Woman Killed By Cop Is Only Worth $11,000”

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Elfin (profile) says:


I live in Redmond (“East Seattle”, whatever) Ave I assure this has caused a Grade A shitstorm up here.

Seattleites, who tend toward reactionary anyway, want Everyone’s heads to roll from the mayor down.* And rightfully so. Like so many large metro departments, SPD is massively dysfunctional… to the point of “Wipe and Replace”.

  • There isn’t enough gold in the world to get me to run for office here, Especially Mayor. You’re always going to piss lots of someones off.
That One Guy (profile) says:

'You murdered a woman with reckless driving? Oh no. Anyway...'

Yes, I’m sure someone who was laughing and cracking jokes as they discussed and dismissed someone who was smeared across the pavement thanks to getting hit by a speeding cop was totally the one who leaked the footage and turned themselves in over it, just overwhelmed with guilt I’m sure.

What they slipped up and said on camera is damning enough on it’s own but the really horrifying thought is when you consider either they had that one moment of open contempt for the lives of the public and it just so happened to occur when the mic was accidentally recording or that is how the VP of the police union thinks all the time.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
David says:

Word choice

Given this context, it’s hard to believe Auderer wasn’t minimizing the death caused by Officer Dave’s reckless driving.

He is a police union representative. It is his job to minimize the claims against the officer, projecting a view most favorable to the accused.

But he is not minimizing what happened here but belittling it. That rather paints a damning picture than an exculpatory one.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

The worst part about this whole story is that the city really didn’t care about the woman who was killed until this recording was released, months and months after the initial killing.

It seems only when the SPD have egg on their faces do the elected officials get upset about something.

ECA (profile) says:

Love the numbers.

HOW fast is 74 mph going to get you someplace? Even on 4 wide lanes to drive on?
60mph is 1 mile per min. To 1/2 that time you need to hit 120mph, IN THE CITY.

And if you are telling me that there is 1 Cop, in a car per 5 sq mile area? Max distance to another cop would be 10 miles?

But what is a cop going to do MORE then an EMS? does he have that NICE pill to stop certain drugs?
Or maybe a flyby drug arrest? Put them in Cuffs, before EMS gets there

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Think of it this way: Do you support the right for teachers and firefighters to unionize? Is your objection to police unionizing based on the fact that they carry weapons?

One more question for you: Who calls the police to break up a strike? (Corollary: who makes the rules about protests, and who sets the behavior of the protestors?)

There’s enough blame to go around, even with the police taking the cop’s … er, lion’s share.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Ethin Probst (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Your missing my point. Do I support the right of firefighters to unionize? Yes. Do I support the right of teachers to unionize? Obviously. (Why you mentioned teachers and firefighters is unclear to me because we aren’t talking about teachers or firefighters, which are NOT law enforcement.) No, I do NOT support the rights of cops to unionize under a “police union”. I solely support the cops to unionize like any other employee: through the NLRB. That’s why the NLRB exists. Cops shouldn’t be given preferential treatment because they’re law enforcement. At this point, a police union is not a union by any definition of the word, but is instead a free set of lawyers on indefinite retainer who will defend the officers at all cost, no matter what the officer does, even if it’s the most horrifying and disgusting murder ever committed. All police unions do nowadays is defend officers against literally anything and do everything they can to get those officers more power. That’s it. They should not exist.
As for you bringing the citizenry into this discussion, sorry, but your questions are nonsense because the citizenry 99 percent of the time is not at blame, at all, for the actions of cops. A cop will still shoot someone even if they haven’t done anything wrong or threatening. Hell, a cop will shoot a harmless dog (!) because it might, theoretically, pose a threat. A cop will murder someone, as happened here, and a police union representative will defend them because they’re just a “regular person”. At this point, law enforcement is, more often than not, a threat to the very people it’s supposed to protect. The citizenry, for the most part, is completely blameless here. The blame lies on the shoulders of the police departments, police unions, and the government.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Do I support the right of teachers to unionize? Obviously.

I think you’re vastly overestimating how much the average Techdirt reader knows about you. To me, there’s nothing “obvious” about this at all; I had no pre-existing idea of how you felt about teachers’ unions.

And still don’t quite know how far your support goes. For example, should unions be able to force people to become members, using the same “if you don’t like it, you can work elsewhere” logic that unions were created to resist? Remember that it’s this ability of unions that precludes the existence of “good cops”: everyone idealistic person knows that if they become a cop they’ll be forced to join a corrupt union, and will in all likelyhood end up like Serpico; since the job’s a monopsony, they’ll have to choose another career.

What’s the specific line you’re drawing between police and other unions? Teachers’ unions, for example, have defended teachers credibly accused of statutory rape against students. Why do they still have your support?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

One part that feels like gets overlooked with this story is that the conversation was being had with the president on the union. So the two “leaders” of the Seattle police union are flippantly joking about the death of a citizen by a careless officer.

Change won’t happen in that organization when the leadership behaves like this in private.

Unfortunately the new chief doesn’t seem like he’s going to do much either, based on his recent reaction to stories about his recent hiring of a friend with whom he may be having a romantic relationship.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
JMT (profile) says:

Not reckless my ass

First, he says the officer was only driving 50 mph, which is “not reckless for a trained driver.”

Even if he was going 50mph and not 50% faster than that, by no definition of the word is that not reckless. Look at the location and tell me that’s not an extremely high-risk location to be covering over 70 feet every second (actually over 100 but we’re still running with the lie). It doesn’t matter if you’re “trained” (probably not well) or using a siren (not properly), the chances of something like this happening are so high it cannot be called anything but reckless.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Cops' lives are worth a lot. Everyone else, worthless.

Pennsylvania hosted a foreign murderer who deigned to commit the same crime in PA. He was tried, convicted, sentenced to, and entered prison. This is far as you can get from someone accused of a crime, a person not accused of a crime, or the police who uphold the law.

That person escaped prison and a reward for information was offered. Initially it was $10,000 but after a week of not being useful cops around to apprehend him, the reward was increased to the amazingly huge sum of $25,000 to apprehend this convicted twice-murderer.

In California someone shot a LEO. The initial reward was immediately set and offered at $250,000. This is in LA, where the Sheriff’s department is so wholesome they’ve had a DoJ consent decree in place for -decades-.

Is this so important – 10x as important – to find one shooter vs a double murderer. No, that’s looking at it the wrong way. The double murderer just killed “civilians”*. The deputy’s killer killed a LEO. That’s 10x worse.

* Civilian is anyone who is not military. While LEOs and first-responders like to pretend they’re some elite non-civilian cells of action, they’re untrained savages that commit heinous crimes, lie to back each other up, and perpetrate violence on “civilians”… you know, people without SWAT trucks, bulletproof vests, automatic weapons they can never seem to hit anything with despite spraying bullets everywhere, and NVGs. Because you know, “it’s hard to see minorities at night without them.” Disgusting. Vile. American Excellence at its best.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Still waiting for an answer to the question of whats the punishment for lying…

They claim he self reported the recording long before it broke in the paper… but the internal documents & other records indicate he lied about that.

Not a good look when you lie about facts when you’re charged with investigating and reporting the facts impartially.

Anonymous Coward says:

I say someone in her family needs to break into and trash that departments computer network in revenge and run them.up a big raoair bill

I believe in getting revenge electronically as it is easier to destroy evidence

If she had been in my family that department would be paying a big repair bill to get this computer networks fixed

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I am not talking about breaking into buildings.

Imam talking about hackinng into their computer networks and taking down their network and costing them money in tapair bills

My preferred method of revenge is electronic. Gettingvrevemge electronically can send a big message and make them think twice about doing something like that again

That would teach them a lesson when they had to pay big money to get their network fixed

You can also be untraceable by using VPN combined with Tor

Anonymous Coward says:

If I saw a cop pont a gun at my wife I would grab onto it and tear it out of his hand and take it away from him by force

Then I would destroy his gun with an angle grinder or somerhing cuts metal.

With his gun destroyed he would be out the money fora new gun

The cops would learn fast if you pint a gun at my wife, it will be taken away by force and then destroyed

I would love to see that cop’s face when I have him back his destroyed gun.

I am a man who believes in protectingy woman by any meanns legal or no.

One of the vows of marriage is to protect her. I believe that GOD comes before the law.

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LostInLoDOS (profile) says:

All the issues

There’s three separate issues here, and Tim ignores 2

The obvious is the distance for life from law enforcement.

However, unless she was blind, she is at fault for failure to yield to an emergency response vehicle. His lights were on. That’s the key thing here.

Finally, you would expect (in this country) that an emergency response would require higher rate of speed. It is authorised by law.

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