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More allegations of abuse and civil rights violations added to Seattle Black Lives Matter protesters lawsuit

The roster of plaintiffs has ballooned to nearly 100 and the driver in the deadly crash that killed an activist during a protest on I-5 has been added as a defendant in the sprawling personal injury, wrongful death, and civil rights lawsuit brought by protesters against Seattle and Olympia.

The lawsuit now names 55 parties including the estate of Summer Taylor, the Capitol Hill activist hit and killed by a speeding driver as Washington State Patrol closed I-5 during the July protest, plus another 40 anonymous “Doe” defendants.

“The BLM/George Floyd protests continue to this day, and have resulted in additional injuries not just to these Plaintiffs but countless others, including other individuals represented by the undersigned counsel,” the legal team for the plaintiffs writes.

Meanwhile, a protester who became one of the best known faces of the summer CHOP protests and BLM marches has been removed from the lawsuit, according to recent filings part of maneuvering by Stritmatter Kessler Koehler Moore and Cedar Law PLLC, the firms handling the case that proponents say could set important new precedents in protest litigation.

Dan Gregory, the unarmed protester shot as he tried to disarm Nikolas Fernandez, the brother of an East Precinct officer, after Fernandez drove into a demonstration crowd at 11th and Pine in June, has temporarily dropped his claims until the criminal case around Fernandez is “fleshed out,” lawyer Karen Koehler tells CHS.

Koehler, who calls the complaint a “historic lawsuit about the right of protest,” says the decision to add Dawit Kelete to the protester lawsuit joining defendants the City of Seattle and the State of Washington would be a standard legal procedure in a wrongful death case involving something like highway design. The question in this case will be one about the Washington State Patrol’s actions and blocking on-ramps and exits but the need to include the driver in the Summer Taylor vehicular homicide case in the lawsuit will be similar, and, Koehler says, will help the plaintiffs if the state attempts to argue that the driver’s decisions, not the WSP’s actions, are at fault.

Kelete, meanwhile, was ordered released from jail and placed on home detention despite being held on bail of $1.2 million in January. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, and reckless driving.

In addition to the state’s failures to safely secure I-5, the plaintiffs allege SPD used unconstitutional excessive force and militarized tactics, including the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and blast balls against peaceful protesters. SKKM and Cedar also allege that SPD targeted the plaintiffs because they were protesting about racial issues.

Currently slated for a September trial date, the complaints from the massive lawsuit’s newly added defendants add to these allegations including details of injuries from crowd control explosives, rubber bullets, and harsh treatment during arrests and in custody — including one allegation of a jail guard slamming a plaintiff’s head “into the surface of a desk, breaking his two front teeth.”

“This lawsuit is filed on behalf of peaceful protesters in Seattle, all of whom were cloaked within the power of the Washington State Constitution to engage in Freedom of Speech and Assemblage on behalf The Black Lives Matter Movement and George Floyd,” the complaint reads.

The full amended complaint with details for each plaintiff is below.

Images of alleged abuses brought by new plaintiffs in the lawsuit

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R U Serious?
R U Serious?
1 month ago

The “protestors” blocked the road themselves, using their own vehicles as home-made road blocks that they did not bother to illuminate with so much as a single flare. The fact that the driver who killed one of them after swerving around their road blocks was high on meth is the only reason they’re not all liable for negligent homicide themselves. Acting like the police had a duty to protect them while they were throwing a party in the middle of the interstate is insanse.

1 month ago

So, let me get this straight: a protestor walks onto a major interstate, then gets struck by a black guy driving the wrong way, and…..the cops are to blame? This is the most Seattle lawsuit ever.

1 month ago

These people are just hoping that the city and state will decide to just settle with them rather than take the case to court. Seattle city government is known for doing that often when the case could have easily been won if they had taken it to court. In this case I can see our council that seems to have no clue what fiscal responsibility is decide that the protesters were totally innocent parties in all of this and that the city should pay them settlements. Even though they were not participating in a permitted protest and they illegally entered the freeway putting themselves in danger knowingly. The state hopefully will not roll over and capitulate to these protesters who are just looking to get a nice settlement check for breaking the law and doing something so dumb as to enter the lanes of a freeway to continue there protest that was not even permitted to begin with.

The state patrol and SPD should not have to be baby sitting these people and they cannot be everywhere at the same time. So the person they need to be suing is the guy who ran them over. As for the rest that claim SPD was too heavy handed. Well what do you expect them to do when you are protesting late into the night blocking police and fire from being able to respond to 911 calls in a timely manner and when told do disperse many in he crowd refuse and start throwing water bottles that are frozen solid and other weapons not normally part of a “peaceful protest”. If you don’t want to get pepper sprayed then get the hell out of there.

If the city ends up paying hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to these “protesters” in settlements it is going to be a windfall for the activist protester community and another example of wasteful spending by the city that could have paved our pothole riddled streets or housed some more encampment or dilapidated RV campers in tiny house or apartment,

1 month ago
Reply to  seaguy

Wrong. Settlements are paid out of the judgement and claims fund and that fund is not used to pave streets or house people.