Prosecutors Decline to Bring Charges against Seattle Police Officer That Killed Pedestrian While Driving 74MPH

King County Prosecutors have declined to press criminal charges against Seattle Officer Kevin Dave for the death of Jaahnavi Kandula in January 2023. Officer Kevin Dave hit Kandula with his Ford sport utility vehicle while driving 74 mph moments at the moment of impact. Kandula was using a cross-walk. Officer Dave was responding to a call about a third-party overdosing on cocaine. The speed limit was 25mph.

The case had drawn significant media attorney because Officer Daniel Auderer, a police union representative left his body camera on while speaking with another officer. Auderer could be heard on the body cam laughing and saying “Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26 anyway. She had limited value.”

The prosecutors’ decision not to press charges against Officer Dave is not surprising. Qualified immunity was created so that government officials could make certain decisions within their job without being held liable. Officer Dave was driving well over the speed limit, but he was doing so to potentially save a person’s life. Officer Auderer’s statements are callous, cruel, and unacceptable, but prosecutors cannot punish Dave for what another man said about the tragic incident. However, Auderer’s statements may come back to haunt the City and police department if Kandular’s family files a civil lawsuit.

A Civil Lawsuit Is Still Possible

The lack of criminal charges does not prevent a civil lawsuit from being filed against the Seattle Police Department. Civil lawsuits are often easier for a victim to win than for prosecutors to win a criminal case because the burden of proof in a civil lawsuit is often “clear and convincing evidence.” Clear and convincing evidence is a lower burden of proof than having to prove a case “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a criminal trial.

The vast majority of defendants will not serve any jail or prison time from a civil lawsuit, the money received from a civil lawsuit settlement or judgment goes to the victim’s family and the attorneys who fought for the victims. This money may directly compensate the victim’s family by paying for funeral costs or therapy.

Police officers and other government officials have some immunity regardless of whether the case is civil or criminal. However, there may be applicable exceptions or exemptions to government immunity in a civil case that may not exist in a criminal case. For instance, a government official who acts with gross negligence may not have liability in a civil lawsuit in many jurisdictions. Similarly, an official who acts maliciously or fraudulently may not always be protected.

Do I Need the Help of a Personal Injury Attorney?

If you have sustained a personal injury through the unlawful act of another, then you should contact a personal injury attorney. A skilled personal injury lawyer near you can review the facts of your case, go over your rights and options, and represent you at hearings and in court

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