Washington state prosecutors on Wednesday filed three counts of crimes against the man who hit two protesters with his car, killing one, while driving on a closed Seattle highway for protests Black Lives Matter.
The King County prosecutor’s office has charged 27-year-old Dawit Kelete with murder, assault and reckless driving. He is to be arrested on July 22 and is still on $ 1.2 million bail.
Kelete drove vehicles parked on Interstate 5 to protect protesters, hitting two people around 1:40 a.m. Saturday, according to the Washington State Patrol.
A protester in Seattle was killed and another in intensive care after a car hit anti-racist protesters. One suspect is in detention without bail.
Summer Taylor was 24 years old and worked in a veterinary clinic. Colleagues said they were “there from day one to defend the lives of blacks.” pic.twitter.com/qQuREiAWxD
– AJ + (@ajplus) July 6, 2020
Summer Taylor, a 24-year-old veterinary clinic worker, suffered serious injuries and died on Saturday evening. Diaz Love, 32, of Portland, Oregon, was sent to the hospital in serious condition. Prosecutors said Love suffered multiple leg and arm fractures and internal injuries and remains in hospital.
In a note posted on Facebook on Sunday evening, Love said that she was “alive and stable.”
“In a lot of pain. I can’t believe Summer was murdered, “said the post. “If they thought this murder would make us back down, they are very wrong. Very bad. ”
Kelete’s lawyer, John Henry Browne, said that his client, who is black, did not intentionally hit the protesters. He said the accident was a “horrible and horrible accident”.
“There is absolutely nothing political about this case,” Browne told the Associated Press news agency. “My client is in tears. He has a lot of remorse. He feels enormous guilt. “
Kelete is from Eritrea, in northeastern Africa, and is an American citizen, said Browne. He lives with his parents in Seattle and they are very religious, he said.
A message asking for comments from Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County said they had no comments on the charges.
Kelete was the owner of the Jaguar XJL and was alone in the car, according to the state patrol.
A security camera on the REI building captured Kelete’s car traveling in the wrong direction on the Stewart I-5 exit ramp, passing numerous warning signs stating “Wrong Way”, according to the accusation document. As it was an exit ramp, “a driver must make a deliberate and tight right turn in order to drive south on I-5,” says the document.
Kelete was traveling at high speed on the highways when he first noticed the protesters, the document said.
Closed road events
The demonstrators shouted and dispersed as the car approached. A graphic video shows the vehicle approaching at high speed. The car appeared to deviate slightly when it moved towards two people still on the road and slipped to the side when it struck the two demonstrators, throwing them into the air. The driver slowed down and turned on his hazard warning lights immediately after impact.
“The accused stopped several hundred meters from the scene,” said prosecutors. “He was approached by witnesses who called out to him to get out of the vehicle. After the witness started hitting and pushing his vehicle, the accused moved away at high speed, “said the prosecutor.
Kelete was followed by one of the protesters, who was able to stop his car by driving ahead of him until the arrival of state soldiers. Kelete has agreed to take a field sobriety test for drugs and alcohol. Tests showed that he was not weak, said the state patrol.
“The driver was reserved and looked sullen throughout his detention,” said Private James McGuire in the arrest report. “At one point, he asked if the injured pedestrians were fine. ”
Seattle was the scene of protracted unrest after the May 2001 police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked nationwide protests.
The state patrol closed a section of I-5 for 19 consecutive days because of the protesters, soldiers said. In the future, officials said they would not allow protesters to enter I-5 and would stop any pedestrians found on the highway.