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Seattle protests killer cop escaping charges for death of pedestrian

By staff

Protestors congregate on the stairs in front of a Seattle Police Department Building. They have signs reading slogans like “Jail Killer Cops” and “Justice for Jaahavi”

Seattle, WA – On March 16, a crowd of around 40 activists, organizers and community members marched around the King County prosecutor’s office. In February, King County Prosecuting Attorney Leesa Manion’s office declined to file charges against Seattle police officer Kevin Dave, who over a year ago struck and killed a student at a crosswalk with his car.

Kevin Dave, an officer previously fired from the Tucson Police Department, was responding to a non-fatal overdose call on January 23, 2023 when he killed 23-year-old Northeastern grad student Jaahnavi Kandula. Dave was going 74 miles per hour—nearly three times the speed limit of 25—without his siren on when he sped through the crosswalk, colliding with Kandula, who was crossing at the time. Body cam footage was later released showing Daniel Auderer, vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, making jokes about the incident and saying to SPOG President Mike Solan that Kandula’s life had “limited value”. After over a year of silence from the city, Prosecuting Attorney Manion declared “insufficient evidence” to file charges.

The protest, organized by the Seattle Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (SAARPR), rallied in a neighboring park, featured speakers from the Seattle Alliance, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, the University of Washington’s Progressive Student Union, For the People 206, and the International League of People’s Struggles. On all sides of the building and on the steps rang out chants of “Convict Kevin Dave,” “Jail killer cops!” and “Community control now!”

Rob Engel of SAARPR said, “This isn't over. Freedom is a constant struggle! If this is really over and we can't do anything about it, then I guess I'm stupid because I'm not gonna give up and we're not gonna give up because we have no choice but to fight.”

The speaker from Progressive Student Union, Mathieu Chabaud, said “The state wants us to think that we are going to be defeated by them, and they want us to be scared. If we shrink back, if we back down from our demand, then we are letting them win.”

A member of For the People 206 said “We have to make these numbers show up, and that means having these conversations, just as we talk about Palestine, and everything else. It’s not when it is trending, it’s not when it’s trending, It’s every day!”

Nikhil Lonberg, a member of Resist U.S. Led War, spoke about the surveillance systems being used to repress our communities, and the need for us to prepare for future fights, stating, “So we know we have to expand, right? We need to be organizing every day. We have to be organizing relentlessly, talking to our communities, talking to our neighbors, building strong organizations that are tackling these issues and waging fighting campaigns.”

Although charges were not filed against Dave, he is slated to face a disciplinary hearing sometime in April. Activists with the Seattle Alliance intend to continue pressuring the city to take action against him. Their demands include firing at the bare minimum, and a reopening of the case.

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