By Steve Pomper
Police Officer with Body-Worn Camera
The radical left’s usual suspects, including the media are pummeling a veteran Seattle Police Department (SPD) officer over incomplete, out of context comments he made after his role in a tragic fatality collision investigation. Reportedly, a police officer responding to an overdose call struck a pedestrian.
The officer described how he’s “dispatched to most of the cities [sic] major injury collisions and fatalities.” Here he did not have to respond to the collision scene. He only knew the victim’s age and gender.
Cop haters are excoriating him based on a recording of only his half of a phone conversation with the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) president, Mike Solan, which admittedly sounds terrible with no context. Now that the guild has provided some context, the radical cop-haters dismiss it as “straining credulity.” Anyone who knows Officer Dan Auderer knows how credible he is.
Now, cop-haters and the media (I know, redundant) have chained Officer Auderer to a wagon and are dragging him through the leftist muck. The coverage has been so warped that when I spoke with one of my sons about it, he thought Officer Auderer was the officer who struck the pedestrian.
The Seattle Times titled one article: “In Seattle: The shocking laughter heard ’round the world.” In it, the writer skewers the officer, cynically rejecting the veracity of the missing context, though, at least, she mentioned it.
It seems the writer wants to believe the officer is a callous human being without considering all the good work he’s done serving the people of Seattle for decades—and she apparently wants others to believe it too.
Now, critics even want to use this distortion of his comments to continue a bogus and debunked consent decree inflicted on the department in 2012. But, if it wasn’t this incident, they would have found something else.
I was saddened to learn that Dan, Officer Auderer, was the officer involved in the recorded comments. I worked with him at the SPD East Precinct for years (I think he rode with me as a student officer when I filled in for his FTO). I’ve always known him to be an excellent officer and person, intelligent, friendly, compassionate, and professional.
I hesitated writing about this incident because after hearing the recording’s one-sided comments without context and not knowing I knew the officer, it sounded bad. Even some cops I respect initially condemned the officer without knowing the full context. There is such an impetus to react in the moment. Our brains tell us there could not possibly be another explanation—until there is.
Cops should know better. Incomplete reporting happens so often, yet even cops do this sometimes. I felt that impetus in this case but subdued it. Even Officer Auderer, as you’ll see, expresses his understanding of how people would feel when hearing only the one-sided recording without context.
People will criticize me for “automatically taking Officer Auderer’s side.” That’s okay. There are enough cop-haters relentlessly bashing him who want to believe the worst. I want to believe the best. And I have an advantage. I know him, and they don’t. I didn’t have to write this; I wanted to.
The Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) released a statement on X (formerly Twitter) along with the officer’s statement to the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) that provides some critical context. And though cop-haters won’t care and will likely scoff at it, reasonable people will understand Officer Auderer’s intent when making the comments he did. And, again, he had nothing to do with that lovely young woman’s tragic death.
SPOG wrote, “The video captures only one side of the conversation. There is much more detail and nuance that has not been made public yet…” Isn’t this important? Not only are some people making up their minds with only half the conversation but also without the context. Regrettably, even when context is provided, some dismiss it out of hand. Too many want to believe the worst about the officers. By the way, I’m sure the officer involved in the collision is also going through his own private hell.
SPOG let the public know that once Officer Auderer learned his body-worn video had been recording, more than a month before the video/audio became public, he proactively wrote a statement to the director of OPA, Gino Betts, and requested a “Rapid Adjudication.” This status speeds up the process of “police employee misconduct investigations so accountability can be swiftly addressed, and reasonable discipline imposed [if necessary].” SPOG also noted that Officer Auderer provided his statement from memory, having no access to the video for reference.
His explanation fits absolutely the officer I know. I’ve also spoken with other officers who’ve worked with him more recently, and they expressed the same warm regard and respect for Officer Auderer. After all, they elected him vice president of their union.
Before knowing the context and solely relying on the benefit of the doubt, I was going to write about the gallows humor officers often use to cope with such tragedies they see daily. I thought this might be that.
But this doesn’t seem to be that. Neither Officer Auderer nor SPOG President Mike Solan (whom I also know and think highly of) had expressed any “gallows humor.” The only “humor” expressed were in the sardonic comments they made at the expense of the lawyers who will quibble over the value of a human life. The all too short life of Jaahnavi Kandula, who appears to have been a wonderful young woman with a promising future. Such a horrible loss to any family is nothing less than catastrophic.
But, to those officers talking about an incident that just occurred and that they had not seen, the circumstances and people are still abstractions without emotional attachments. There’s a scene in the movie Saving Private Ryan where the soldiers are wiping blood off the dog tags of other soldiers killed in action. The soldiers are laughing and joking until their medic notices the dead soldiers’ comrades walking by and tells his guys to stop. That’s when the abstract became concrete and the soldiers gained a more emotional connection.
Now, I say this only to explain the abstraction vs. emotion aspect of this situation because, again, I don’t think Auderer and Solan were expressing gallows humor. But it makes the point about when officers, detached from a tragic incident, don’t take things as seriously as others with emotional attachments expect them too.
Cop-haters and the leftist media lie in wait for initial, incomplete reporting involving cops to exploit, so they can pounce and facilitate yet another wave of hate against all law enforcement officers. Helping people to understand how cops react to and talk about such tragedies, including abstractions, lack of context, and even sarcasm and gallows humor, could have helped rather than muddied understanding of this multi-faceted situation early on.
Instead, selfish leftist bullies stoke more hatred toward the cops, and the victim, her family, and the public can be damned. They will now direct their rage at an officer who had nothing to do with the victim’s death but whom the radicals will treat as if he had.
Still, the officers’ intent, which informs the context of the conversation they had, is critically important to understanding the situation. I encourage everyone to read SPOG’s comments and Officer Auderer’s explanation to the OPA director, with an open mind. For now, I’ll attempt to condense the officers’ comments.
On his way home after performing his post-collision portion of the investigation, which did not include responding to the scene or having seen or had any contact with the victim, Officer Auderer called Solan to update him.
The conversation occurred with Officer Auderer alone in his patrol car and the guild president at another location. Officer Auderer said he’d inadvertently activated his body-worn video, which recorded the call.
Auderer writes that Solan said it was unfortunate that this tragedy would become “lawyers arguing about the value of human life.” He said Solan was saddened by the loss of life and asked something like, “What crazy argument can a lawyer make in something like this?”
Sarcastically, Officer Auderer said he mocked the lawyers who might say something like, “She’s 26 years old, what value is there, who cares?” Cop-haters want people to believe Auderer said this seriously. That contention strains credulity. This notion is preposterous to anyone who knows Solan or Auderer.
Why are people so ready to believe a police officer would seriously say something so vile? Radical leftists have successfully created a pervasive cop-hating mythology that conditions too many people to think the worst of police officers.
Knowing Officer Auderer, the only joke is that anyone would believe this man would utter the above sentiment seriously. He said they were predicting that lawyers would likely make such an argument to minimize any payment to the victim’s family. What popped into my mind was that over the years the city has paid off so many undeserving “victims,” I wondered if a “real” victim would be as fortunate (but that’s my speculation, not necessarily theirs).
I need to interject here. While it’s tragic that an officer struck this poor woman, he was responding to yet another drug overdose (likely fentanyl), which is epidemic in this city due to the radical city government’s lax law enforcement policies. Do irresponsible city leaders bear any culpability in this tragedy? Was it preventable if the cops were allowed to enforce laws and the city attorney to prosecute criminals as they should be? You can decide for yourselves.
You can’t know what cops go through unless you’ve been through it yourself. You can try to understand and give cops the benefit of the doubt, and that’s great. But you still can’t possibly know what any first responder experiences and why they have the conversations they do in the manner they do. For most people, life’s traumatic events are few and far between. For cops, they happen all the time.
If I didn’t know Officer Auderer to be a good man, it would have been easy to not write about this incident. But Dan deserves better than that, and I hope this helps people understand the situation he’s found himself in.
And talk about a lack of sympathy for the victim. For the cop-haters to exploit this muddled communications nightmare into something it’s not shows just how much “sympathy” they have for the victim and “empathy” for her family who is coping with this horrific tragedy. None at all. They just made it fit their narrative, so they could use it to foster hate against cops.