A man accused of fleeing after shooting down two protesters with his Jaguar in Seattle, killing a 24-year-old veterinary clinic worker, has been hit with three felony charges, including vehicular manslaughter.
Dawit Kelete, 27, was charged by the King County District Attorney’s Office with vehicular manslaughter, vehicular assault, and reckless driving.
He drove around vehicles parked on Interstate 5 to protect people during the Black Lives Matter protests on Saturday before hitting Summer Taylor and Diaz Love.
The veterinary clinic employee Taylor died Saturday night, and Love, 32, of Portland, Oregon, was hospitalized in serious condition with multiple broken arms and legs and internal injuries, authorities said.
In a message posted to Facebook on Sunday night, Love reported that he was “alive and stable.”
“In a lot of pain. I can’t believe Summer was killed,” Love said. “If you thought this murder would push us back, you are very wrong. Very bad.”
The suspect’s attorney, John Henry Browne, said his black client did not intentionally hit the protesters and called the accident “horrible, horrible accident.”
“There is absolutely nothing political about this case,” Browne said. “My client is crying. He is very sorry. He feels tremendous guilt. “
Kelete is a U.S. citizen from Eritrea, Africa, and lives with her parents in Seattle, Browne said, adding that they are very religious.
Kelete was alone in his Jaguar XJL at the time of the incident, state police said.
A nearby security camera captured the car driving in the opposite direction down the Stewart Street I-5 exit ramp, passing several warning signs saying “Wrong Way,” according to the cargo document.
Because it was an exit ramp, “a driver must make a deliberate and sharp U-turn to drive south on I-5,” the document says.
He was driving at highway speeds when he first noticed protesters, according to the document.
A graphic video captured the Jag approaching at high speed. He seemed to drift slightly as he approached two people who were still on the road. The car slid sideways when it hit the two protesters.
The driver then slowed down and switched on his flashing lights.
“The defendant stopped several hundred meters from the scene,” prosecutors said. “Witnesses approached him and yelled at him to get out of the vehicle. After the witness began to hit and push his vehicle, the defendant drove away at high speed. “
One of the protesters managed to stop Kelete’s car by driving in front of him until the soldiers arrived. Kelete agreed to take a field sobriety test for drugs and alcohol. Tests showed he was not affected, police said.
“The driver was reserved and seemed sullen throughout his time in custody,” Private James McGuire wrote in the arrest report. “At one point he asked if the injured pedestrians were okay.”
Kelete remains in custody on a $ 1.2 million bond and is scheduled to be processed on July 22.