Following disturbing bodycam video, Seattle's South Asian leaders ask: 'Is that what they think of us?'
This weekend, protesters marched through South Lake Union, demanding accountability for Jaahnavi Kandula’s death.
Kandula was struck and killed by a Seattle Police car in January. The renewed outrage comes after body camera video was released earlier this month showing a police union leader joking about Kandula’s death, saying “she had limited value.”
The bodycam footage led to public outrage and members of the South Asian community in Seattle met with Mayor Bruce Harrell and Police Chief Adrian Diaz over the weekend.
"We wanted the creation of an independent body to investigate Jaahnavi Kandula, and other civilian, deaths that happened at the hands of Seattle Police Department in a very timely manner," said Lalita Uppala, who was at that meeting and is the executive director of Indian American Community Services.
Uppala said the group who met with the mayor and police chief also asked for release of all investigative reports from the Office of Police Accountability about this case, as well as any material related to the investigations of the officers involved.
"It's about transparency. It's about admitting the errors that have happened," she said. "How do we come back to feeling like we are safe and that we are residents, that this is our adopted homeland and that we belong?"
Uppala said she felt "shock, deep pain, and sadness" when she saw the video of Seattle Police Officers Guild vice president, Det. Daniel Auderer, laughing and joking after the fatal officer-involved collision.
"We immigrated to a country where we believe democracy actually exists. Where we believe there is respect for all, and that our voice matters," Uppala said. "The caretakers, the safeguards of our community, the law enforcement, our police; is that what they think of us? Do they think that our value, our lives, have limited value?"
Listen to Soundside’s full conversation with Lalita Uppala by tapping the play icon at the top of this story.