Bail Set for Driver Who Hit Protesters 07/07 06:51
SEATTLE (AP) -- A judge on Monday set a $1.2 million bail for the man
accused of driving a Jaguar on to a closed Seattle freeway and hitting two
protesters, killing one and seriously injuring the other.
Dawit Kelete, who is Black, drove the car around vehicles that were parked
on Interstate 5 to protect a group of Black Femme March demonstrators, part of
the Black Lives Matter movement protesting racial inequality and police
violence. The car hit two people and sped away about 1:40 a.m. Saturday, police
Over the weekend, a judge found probable cause to hold Kelete on an
investigation of vehicular assault.
But the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office has yet to file charges
against Kelete. It says it's waiting for additional required information from
the State Patrol.
"A charging decision is expected by Wednesday afternoon," spokesman Casey
Kelete's lawyer, John Henry Browne, said the crash was a "horrible, horrible
accident" and was not intentional.
"There's absolutely nothing political about this case whatsoever," Browne
told The Associated Press. "My client is in tears. He's very remorseful. He
feels tremendous guilt."
Kelete is originally from Eritrea and is a U.S. citizen, Browne said. He
lives with his family in Seattle, and they're very religious, he said.
Kelete was the owner of the Jaguar XJL and was alone in the car, according
to a Washington State Patrol report submitted to the court late Saturday.
The protesters screamed and scattered as the car approached. A graphic video
shows the vehicle approaching at a high rate of speed. It appeared to swerve
slightly as it came toward two people still in the road. The car slid sideways
as it hit the two protesters, sending them into the air. The driver turned on
his flashers just after impact, and drove away.
Summer Taylor, a 24-year-old veterinary clinic worker, suffered critical
injuries and died Saturday night. Diaz Love, 32, from Portland, Oregon, was in
"I'm alive and stable," Love posted on Facebook late Sunday. "In a lot of
pain. I cannot believe Summer was murdered. If they thought this murder would
make us back down, they are very wrong. Very wrong.
Love also said: "My FB is filled with death threats, that and only being
able to use one hand has me going slow. I deeply appreciate and feel all the
love y'all are sending me."
After Kelete was stopped by state troopers, he agreed to take a field
sobriety test for drugs and alcohol. The tests showed he was not impaired, the
state patrol said.
"The driver was reserved and appeared sullen throughout his time in
custody," Trooper James McGuire wrote in the arrest report. "At one point he
asked if the injured pedestrians were okay."
Kelete, 27, was booked into the King County Correctional Facility on
Saturday morning on two counts of vehicular assault.
Seattle has been the site of prolonged unrest following the May police
killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked nationwide protests.
Dozens of people were arrested last week in connection with protests as
demonstrations continued after authorities cleared the "Capitol Hill Occupied
Protest" zone in downtown Seattle.
The state patrol had closed a section of I-5 for 19 days in a row because of
the protesters, troopers said. It had been closed to traffic for more than an
hour before the crash.
The state patrol said going forward it won't allow protesters to enter I-5
and would arrest pedestrians on the freeway.