SPD Report: Officer was driving 74 mph before killing pedestrian
Jun 21, 2023, 7:13 AM | Updated: 9:42 am
(Photo from KIRO 7)
A new report has been released about the Seattle Police Department (SPD) officer that hit and killed a pedestrian while responding to an emergency call in January show that the officer was driving 74 mph in a 25 mph zone.
According to a report first published by Publicola and then verified by KIRO 7 News, Kevin Austin Dave was identified as the officer in the patrol vehicle when it struck and killed 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula.
On Jan. 23, Officer Dave was responding to a call about an overdose when he was approaching a marked crosswalk at Dexter Avenue N and Thomas Street just after 8 p.m. The official incident report shows that he was traveling at 74 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone.
“The speed at which Ofc. DAVE was traveling did not allow [Kandula] or him sufficient time to detect, address and avoid a hazard that presented itself,” an SPD analysis of the collision concludes.
Dave said that Kandula was in the crosswalk when he was driving up to the road, and according to a witness, Kandula started to move faster through the crosswalk, “like ‘I need to get out of the street, there’s a siren coming.'”
According to the report, Dave said his “lights were on, was chirping the siren as I was headed down. She was in the crosswalk, she saw me, and she started running through the crosswalk. Slammed on my brakes. Instead of staying back where she should before crossing, she just zips…”
Dave did not have his siren activated continuously but “chirped” his siren at intersections.
“It is believed that she was attempting to reach an area of perceived safety,” according to SPD’s analysis of the incident, and she had “little time to assess her options to respond to the threat.”
“Had Ofc. Dave been traveling 50 MPH or less as he approached the intersection and encountered an Ofc. DAVE and responded in the same manner; this collision would not have occurred,” the report concluded.
Following the crash, officers performed CPR while waiting for Seattle Fire Department medics to arrive. Once medics were at the scene, they took over lifesaving measures and transported Kandula to Harborview Medical Center, where she later died.
According to Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz, a drug recognition expert responded to the scene and found no signs of impairment in Dave.
This intersection was part of an area at one point set to receive a full redesign, but the project’s funding was cut by $2.2 million in Mayor Bruce Harrell’s 2023 budget and not restored by the Seattle City Council.
Seattle law does allow officers to “exceed maximum speed limits” as long as they do not “endanger life or property,” and the law does not “relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons.”
Kandula was a student at the Northeastern University campus in South Lake Union, and was working to earn a Master’s in information systems. She was from Adoni, India, a city in the southern part of the country.
Dave has been with the department since Nov. 2019 and is certified as an EMT.
KIRO 7 contributed to this report