They’re getting away with it
Former Mayor Jenny Durkan and former Seattle Police Department Chief Carmen Best will not be facing any charges related to text messages deleted from their phones during the 2020 protests sparked by George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police. State law makes it a class C felony for public officials to “remove, alter, mutilate, destroy, conceal, or obliterate a record, map, book, paper, document, or other thing filed or deposited in a public office, or with any public officer.”
As first reported by PubliCola’s Erica Barnett (also the winner of Real Change’s 2023 Editorial Excellence award), they’re getting off scot-free for doing exactly that because none of them meant to hide their texts from public scrutiny; they were just very, very bad at using their phones.
“There is no evidence that the involved individuals intended to permanently delete anything,” wrote King County Prosecuting Attorney Leesa Manion, in a memo explaining the decision.
We’re getting sick of it
In other news related to the sincere beliefs of major players within the Seattle Police Department, comments recorded by the bodycam of Officer Daniel Auderer have set the nation aflame. Figuratively, not literally, but still, when you get caught on body cam laughing about the tragic killing of Jaahnavi Kandula by one of your colleagues, people get pretty heated.
“But she is dead,” Auderer, a vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG), can be heard saying in the video SPD released Sept. 11, before laughing in response to something his conversation partner, SPOG president Mike Solan says.
“No, it’s a regular person,” Auderer continues, which many have speculated is him clarifying to Solan that the victim was not homeless. The recording concludes with Auderer saying, “Just write a check. $11,000. She was 26 anyway; she had limited value.”
Auderer’s video also opens with him suggesting that the officer involved in the incident, Officer Kevin Dave, wasn’t out of line. “He’s going 50? That’s not out of control. That’s not reckless for a trained driver,” Auderer says. Publicola’s Barnett was also first to report that Dave was driving 74 miles per hour and was only chirping his siren as he passed through intersections. Dave’s comments at the time of the crash — “I fucked up” — directly conflict with Auderer’s assessment.
In the wake of Auderer’s abhorrent jokes, several groups have launched petitions calling for his firing. Mayor Bruce Harrell wrote a letter to Kandula’s family, promising, “Her life had immeasurable value, and any sentiment, shared by one person, that expresses otherwise does not represent the very real feelings of heartbreak that our entire city has over the loss of your child.”
Auderer does, however, represent the entirety of the city’s rank and file officers via his role in SPOG. An Office of Professional Accountability investigation is ongoing, according to a Sept. 16 press release sent by the mayor’s office. For the time being, Auderer remains employed.
Read more of the Sept. 20-26, 2023 issue.