The chancellor of Northeastern University has announced that Jaahnavi Kandula, the Indian student who tragically lost her life after being struck by a speeding police car in Seattle, will be posthumously awarded her master’s degree.
The decision is made in the hope that the ongoing investigation will ultimately deliver justice and accountability in this unfortunate incident.
Kandula, a 23-year-old student at Washington State’s Northeastern University was struck at a pedestrian crossing on the night of January 23.
Kandula was set to graduate this coming December with a master’s degree in information systems from the Seattle campus of Northeastern University.
Her family said she was working toward supporting her mother in India.
She was struck by a police vehicle driven by officer Kevin Dave when she was crossing a street. He was driving 74 mph (more than 119 kmh) on the way to a report of a drug overdose call.
In bodycam footage released on Monday (11) by the Seattle Police Department, officer Daniel Auderer laughed about the deadly crash and dismissed any implication Dave might be at fault or that a criminal investigation was necessary.
In the video, Auderer, who is captured on body camera while discussing the fatal collision, can be heard saying, “Yeah, just write a check. USD 11,000. She was 26 anyway, she had limited value.”
Saddened by Kandula’s death, Kenneth W. Henderson, chancellor of Northeastern University said in a statement issued on the varsity’s official Facebook page on Friday.
“Her loss will be felt deeply by students, staff, and faculty. The university plans to award Jaahnavi her degree posthumously and present it to her family. “In the days following this tragedy, our Seattle campus community joined together in a vigil of remembrance and solidarity. At the time, our dean Dave Thurman wrote of Jaahnavi’s tremendous engagement, noting that all on our Seattle campus, “loved her bubbly laugh, sense of humour and infectious personality,” the post read.
This week, Jaahnavi’s friends and loved ones are enduring the additional pain of new developments related to this tragedy, he noted.
“Callous and insensitive remarks by a Seattle police officer have become public, reopening wounds and deepening our collective heartbreak,” Henderson wrote.
He acknowledged that the Indian student community—across all Northeastern campuses—has been especially impacted by this tragedy and its aftermath. “We stand in solidarity with you and have every expectation that the ongoing investigations will bring a measure of justice and accountability,” the chancellor of Northeastern University said in the statement.
“When a group of us are experiencing anguish, we are all in pain. These are the times when we must draw strength from each other and move forward in unity. Next week, we will convene campus gatherings to allow our community to join together in harmony,” he added.
India has taken up Kandula’s case with the US government as well as with local officials in Washington state. “Recent reports including in the media of the handling of Ms Jaahnavi Kandula’s death in a road accident in Seattle in January are deeply troubling,” the consulate general of India in San Francisco tweeted on Wednesday.
“We have taken up the matter strongly with local authorities in Seattle and Washington State as well as senior officials in Washington DC for a thorough investigation and action against those involved in this tragic case,” the mission said.
The Consulate and the Embassy will continue to closely follow up on this matter with all concerned authorities, it added.