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Friday, September 22, 2023

Bay Area community members hold vigil for Jaahnavi Kandula, woman mock after being fatally struck by Seattle police car

FREMONT, Calif. (KGO) — Her picture held prominently, a vigil was held Sunday evening in Fremont for Jaahnavi Kandula, the 23-year-old graduate student struck and killed by a Seattle Police Department Vehicle in January.

“Everyone that I talked to about this incident just felt really torn up and really traumatized by what happened, and the way that officer made really callus remarks about this young woman who died,” said Deepa Sharma, organizer with South Asians for America.

Body camera footage released this week captured an officer on the phone laughing at the fatal incident and saying Kandula’s life had limited value.

“We wanted to create a space to grieve this young woman’s death and send a message that our immigrant communities, our API women, we have limitless value — contrary to what the officer had said,” Sharma said.

RELATED: Officer caught on bodycam laughing, joking over death of grad student struck by another cop

“Shock disbelief and just absolute anger and rage at what has happened,” said Pleasanton resident Anjali Rao.

Mourning community members took to the podium, taking a moment to call for justice.

“I think we have to completely reimagine the police system, the justice system, and hold people accountable,” Rao said.

“It’s really just unacceptable and that’s all I can say it’s absolutely unacceptable to devalue a person’s life,” said Fremont resident Karena Shackelford.

MORE: Advocates rally for pedestrian safety improvements after 4-year-old hit, killed by car in SF

And the group that gathered Sunday extended beyond the South Asian community.

“Being a person of color and understanding that sometimes Black, Brown, AAPI people aren’t valued the same way, I wanted to the let the community know I stand in support of them,” Shackelford said.

“My Sikh community side. I’m really sad for this tragedy and all my condolences to the family and friends and everything. We need to pray for them,” said Fremont resident Tejinder Dhami.

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