The driver who sped onto a closed I-5 during a Seattle Black Lives Matter protest, killing one and badly injuring another when he raced through the crowd of demonstrators, will be charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, and reckless driving, the King County Prosecutor announced Wednesday.
Prosecutors say 27-year-old Dawit Kelete tested sober after he crashed into and killed 24-year-old Summer Taylor and sent 32-year-old Diaz Love to the hospital with serious injuries. The Seattle man remains jailed on $1.2 million bail. He is scheduled to enter a plea on the charges in two weeks.
The charges indicate prosecutors and detectives do not have evidence that Kelete targeted the protest. “Additional charges may be added or amended based on the information that may be sent to our office from the ongoing investigation,” a statement from the prosecutor’s office reads.
Prosecutors say the investigation,is being handled by the Washington State Patrol and the FBI.
CHS reported on the July 4th, 1:30 AM collision after Kelete drove onto the closed freeway in a white Jaguar and sped toward the crowd, careening into Taylor and Love, and trying to race away before being arrested after he was stopped by a car in place to protect the protestors.
— Omari Salisbury (@Omarisal) July 4, 2020
I-5 was closed to traffic by the Washington State Patrol that morning from I-90 to 520 around midnight as the nightly protest barricaded ramps and made its way onto the freeway after demonstrating outside the West Precinct.
According to reports from the scene, Seattle Police, and the Washington State Patrol, the 27-year-old driver raced onto the freeway and through the crowd at high speed. In the SPD report on the incident, detectives 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 said the driver was the sole occupant of the vehicle.
Though he passed a sobriety and breathalyzer test, prosecutors say Kelete said would be suffering withdrawal to a painkiller and suffers from addiction when he was being admitted to the King County Jail:
Kelete’s criminal record includes minor offenses in Pullman. The charging document says Kelete is a full-time student who lives with his parents in South Seattle and works at a gas station.
CHS reported here on Taylor, a Capitol Hill resident who loved working with animals and was expressing joy and passion for social justice before they were struck and killed.
Friends and supporters, meanwhile, have so far raised more than $60,000 to help the 32-year-old Love with medical expenses, living expenses, and recovery costs.
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