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Driver smashes into Seattle Black Lives Matter crowd during I-5 protest — UPDATE: One dead

The moments before Saturday’s terrible collision (Image: @nowah_j)

(Image: @nocopcoop)

Two people were sent to the hospital, one with life threatening injuries, after a driver sped through a crowd of dozens of Black Lives Matter protesters blocking southbound I-5 early Saturday morning.

The driver has been taken into custody, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Just after 1:30 AM, a white sedan sped into the crowd assembled on the freeway near Yale just north of the Olive Way overpass, careening into at least two protesters in a scene captured by journalists livestreaming the demonstration. Seattle Fire reports the two victims are women in their 20s. One suffered life threatening injuries while the second suffered serious injuries but is reported in stable condition. UPDATE x2: WSP says the victims are a 24-year-old from Seattle and a 32-year-old from Bellingham. UPDATE x3: They have been identified as Summer Taylor, 24, and Diaz Love, 32. Information on how to help is below.

UPDATE 10:00 PM: According to Harborview, Taylor passed away earlier Saturday.

I-5 was closed to traffic by WSP between I-5 and 520 around midnight as the nightly protest barricaded ramps and made its way onto the freeway after demonstrating outside the West Precinct.

WSP posted an image of the car from the incident (Image: Washington State Patrol)

According to reports from the scene, Seattle Police, and the Washington State Patrol, the 27-year-old driver sped onto the freeway and through the crowd at high speed. SPD reported the vehicle appeared to be occupied by multiple people and was pursued by a second car after the terrible crash. There were unconfirmed reports of gunfire during the pursuit. UPDATE: In their report on the incident, police say the driver was the sole occupant of the vehicle.

UPDATE 4:00 PM: The driver has been identified as Dawit Kelete. The Seattle man is currently held in King County Jail, booked for investigation of vehicular assault and awaiting charges. A hearing to set his bail is slated for Monday. A search shows Kelete has no felony court records in King County. He was cited in Seattle in June for driving without insurance, according to municipal court records.

It was not yet clear how Kelete got onto the freeway but the WSP says it is believed he possibly entered I-5 via an offramp. In a media briefing, a spokesperson said the car did not gain access through a WSP closure point. The driver was not impaired by drugs or alcohol, the spokesperson said. UPDATE: In the SPD report on the incident, police say Kelete drove the wrong way on the Stewart ramp to access the freeway north of the demonstration, turned right onto I-5 south and sped less than a quarter mile before ramming into the protesters.

WSP reported the driver was in custody around 2:30 AM but we do not know details of the arrest. UPDATE: The WSP says the suspect vehicle was blocked in by the car that pursued it following the collision and a second vehicle that entered the freeway to assist.

UPDATE 10:26 PM: The Seattle Police report filed with the court Saturday describes what police investigating the incident saw in a video provided by a witness. “The Jaguar passed vehicles parked perpendicular on the interstate to protect protesters. The vehicle then made a sharp left turn entering the right lane and struck two protesters.”

The driver was reserved and appeared sullen throughout his time in custody,” police write. “At one point he asked if the injured pedestrians were okay.”

While WSP has been blocking the freeway to help protect the demonstrators, early Saturday morning, a WSP commander criticized the ongoing protests.

(Image: @nowah_j)

“Listen, what happened this morning is a tragedy. I mean, it is a true tragedy,” Captain Ron Mead, commander of WSP field operations for District 2, said. “But what is occurring out here is unlawful behavior. It is illegal to block an interstate. Plain and simple. And the fact that this occurred for 19 days in a row. It needs to end. It needs to come to a stop.”

The victims were taken to Harborview where a group of protesters gathered overnight.

Saturday’s incident came on a night busy with protest across Seattle including a large demonstration that again marched on Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Northeast Seattle home. Small groups of demonstrators were also reported overnight around the cleared Capitol Hill protest zone.

It is not known if the driver was targeting the BLM Women’s March. In early June, A driver sped toward the massive demonstration crowd at 11th and Pine and shot one protester attempting to disarm him. Nikolas Fernandez has been charged with one count of first degree assault in the incident. The Capitol Hill protest zone also suffered two deadly shootings amid a string of gun violence around the camp.

Demonstrators have been blocking I-5 nightly for weeks on marches between the Capitol Hill protest zone outside the East Precinct and the West Precinct.

Small demonstrations have continued around the Pike/Pine and Broadway core of Capitol Hill following Wednesday’s police raid and sweep to clear the occupied protest and camp from E Pine and Cal Anderson Park.

UPDATE 5:04 PM: Seattle Police say an earlier incident involving an off-duty cop and another driver at Boren and Olive Way and the same group of protesters 90 minutes before the incident on I-5 was not related to the crash that later sent the two women to the hospital.

According to SPD, around midnight, an off-duty Seattle Police officer was driving a personal vehicle at Boren and Olive Way, “where a group of demonstrators had blocked the intersection” —

The off-duty officer reported they had attempted to drive through an opening in the crowd when the crowd surrounded their vehicle. Another driver became involved in the incident and struck the off-duty officer’s car.

Police say they investigated and there were no injuries reported. This incident has been referred to the Office of Police Accountability for review, SPD says.

UPDATE 7/5/2020 9:30 AM: WSP has announced it will no longer allow protests to enter the freeway:

Saturday night, groups of Seattle Police were reported near onramps in the Capitol Hill area and a line of WSP vehicles was deployed along I-5 through the city’s core waiting to intervene if necessary.

The nightly Women’s March, meanwhile, continued with a peaceful journey Saturday night that included a vigil for their fallen counterpart.


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29 thoughts on “Driver smashes into Seattle Black Lives Matter crowd during I-5 protest — UPDATE: One dead

      • So you think a black man from Seattle with no criminal history and nothing on his social media even remotely right wing just decided to mow people down? Unlikely. It’s more likely he thought the rules didn’t apply to him and thought he could go around the protester cars, not realizing they were standing in the roadway just on the other side. Speed was no doubt a factor because he was driving FAST.

      • first of all- he does have a criminal history and second- he illegally drove the wrong way up a freeway exit, made a U-turn and accelerated into the protesters.

    • Agree. I am not saying that this wasn’t a horrendous crime, and the driver should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But blocking the freeway night after night is an illegal and belligerent act, and not a peaceful protest. Those protesting have the option of simply using one of the overpasses.

      • Your assertion that people conducting political demonstrations on a public road, preventing use of the road by motor vehicles and reserving it for protesters for multiple consecutive nights is “not a peaceful protest” implies a very contorted definition of “peaceful,” Bob.

        When people blocked lunch counters day after day, was that, by your criteria, also “not peaceful”?

        If you instead said that this makes the protest inconvenient for people who hoped to use the road in a manner inconvenient with the protest (e.g., to drive on it) in the middle of the night, night after night, then I would agree with you. It definitely inconveniences a few people.

  1. Got this response from DoorDash after reporting this incident to them:

    “I want you to know that we take safety concerns very seriously at DoorDash, we sincerely appreciate you reaching out and informing us of this incident with such detail.”

    “We do not condone this type of action and have therefore taken the step in removing them from our platform. This Dasher will no longer be able to deliver future orders on DoorDash. Results of all internal investigations are kept private.”

    “Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns, and I would be happy to help.”

    Best,
    Debora
    DoorDash Support
    DoorDash Help

  2. Glad they got the driver and they should face charges, but allowing people to run onto the freeway with no consequences every night was bound to lead to something like this eventually.

    Once again, Seattle’s culture of enabling leads to someone getting seriously hurt. At least they didn’t die this time, unlike the victims of the CHOP.

    • The police have been shutting down the freeway so that the protesters may gather in peace without being in danger from traffic. The protests had been approved by the city. In no way can you blame the protesters for this, this was a targeted attack. Please don’t comment on things that you clearly have no information on.

      • The city has no jurisdiction over the freeways and couldn’t possibly have approved these protests.

        Are you claiming the protestors had valid permits for these freeway closures issued by the state DOT and WSP?

      • I’m fully aware of what happened. My point is that the WSP should have never been allowing folks into the freeway to begin with, let anyone every day, sometimes multiple times. Clearly their shutdown wasn’t effective in preventing danger. Something like this happening was totally foreseeable and didn’t need to to occur.

    • This comment is enabling a driver who purposefully rammed into protestors.

      Conservatives create a culture of enabling if they feel it benefits themselves or it harms anybody who doesn’t follow their beliefs. Cruelty is the point.

  3. Why are people being apologetic to the driver on this forum? Do you disagree with the protesters message and methods? Sure go ahead. But this person literally went out of their way and attempted to murder people.

    Murder.

    If you are sitting behind your laptop making arguments about how protests should and should not be conducted then you are truly lost.

    • I’m not getting why you are jumping to the unfounded conclusion that anyone thinks him mowing down protestors was ok?

      1. Allowing protestors to occupy the interstate for a protest is not a safe idea.
      AND
      2. The driver should be charged with vehicular homicide.

      Those are not mutually exclusive statements. Why is that so hard to understand? This was literally “an accident that was waiting to happen”, that actually DID. How can anyone argue with that? It DID happen. It’s a stupid idea to let protestors do so on I-5. The evidence is right there. That doesn’t mean anyone thinks what this driver did was OK.

  4. From Diaz Love’s live stream about an hour before she was hit by the car on the freeway.
    Female police officer in blue Honda lic #BUE5860 nearly hit several marchers. Car accompanying marchers on city streets followed car and got license plate number. Blue Honda then turned around and headed back toward marchers. Thinking she was going to make another attempt at hitting marchers pursuing car blocked in the blue Honda. Driver identified herself as a police officer and called police for rescue. More than 20 police vehicles appeared in minutes.Two minutes before Diaz Love was struck on the freeway someone approached her and told her badge number was #5677. Diaz was also shown a cell phone photo of the driver, visible on the video. Diaz was also told that it was the “same car circling around us last night, trying to hit us” and “it was the same cop from last night.” I doubt the police claim, above, that there was no relationship between the two incidents.

    • This comment should be deleted. It’s not right to publish someones information like this with absolutely no proof of your claims. You could be putting this person at risk of many things, up to and including physical harm. This doxxing of people must stop, it will tear us all apart.

  5. For the love of god, can we just stop with the conspiracy theories. Dawit Kelete was not working on behalf of the police or whatever crazy other idea is running through your head.

    Mr. Kelete who killed Summer Taylor, the Governor who stood by and let the interstate close for 19 nights in a row, and the protest organizers who led a group to trespass onto an inherently dangerous freeway should all be held accountable for this tragedy.

    My condolences go out to the Talyor and Love families.

    • You know the Governor’s cousin- Sheriff Mike Brown- posted an “all lives splatter” meme on the internet following the attack on the freeway? You know that right? You know that same sheriff went onto the personal page of one of the victims to post hateful messages? The governor’s response? He was “disappointed” in his cousin. WTF.

  6. Seattle I-5 has reversible entry/exit entrances, remotely operated electric gates, and signage. The power reportedly cycled before the tragic incident (e.g. tunnel ramp WSP cameras went out). The NTSB should be called in to properly investigate, and make recommendations that can prevent any repeated incident.

  7. Brian, remorse typically isn’t narrated into a police report but in this particular situation it is. I predict this will be important in the future.

  8. No conspiracy theory here. Everything I stated is a plain fact, except for the last sentence expressing my doubt that the incident was unrelated to subsequent events. The police department statement is simply false, based solely on the accused officer’s statement, and disproved by the victim’s live stream video.
    Seattlelite: Probably not necessary to repeat license plate number and I regret that. However, that information was posted by the protester who was hit on the freeway about an hour later. It is as accessible to anyone who wants it as it was to me and is certainly known to the protesters.
    To any sympathizer to the cause of the protesters: The officer involved is only part of a system. I doubt she was “off duty.” The way forward is to find the truth, about this horrific event and the others in the CHOP area in the last two weeks. Not more violence.
    Chairman Ben, this is not a traffic control issue. Kelete accelerated when he saw people on the freeway and swerved to hit the two victims, according to witnesses on the scene and apparent in the video from above.

    Brian N., How do you know Kelete was not “working” for the police? You scream it as if it is a for certain fact. How do you know that? As for other “crazy ideas running through my head.” Over the last half century I have personally experienced and investigated other cases involving police intelligence orchestrated political violence. Cults, terrorist organizations, criminal gangs and state actors all have the means of manipulating people into carrying out horrific acts. When these acts have profound political impacts to the advantage of state interests all reasonable questions are legitimate. One standard operating procedure of police organizations targeting drug trafficking organizations is “you get someone you got something on” to “work” for you. My question of the day: what could a police intelligence unit have on a 27 y.o Somali/Eritrean immigrant, who drives a Jaguar? Just one question, out of many, that any through investigation would seek answers to.
    There are a lot of unanswered questions involving all of the homicides related to the protests in the last two weeks. We must have answers.

    • C’mon. Used Jaguars are not costly as they are not great cars and break a lot. Read about Occam’s razor. The simplest explanation is usually the right one. I don’t know what motivated the driver and assume we will learn as his prosecution proceeds. But absent a scintilla of evidence that these is a police conspiracy or the like in this event, I suggest you back off.

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