A man accused of fleeing the scene after mowing 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 homicide.
Dawit Kelete, 27, was charged by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and reckless driving.
He drove around vehicles that were parked on Interstate 5 to protect people during Black Lives Matter demonstrations on Saturday when he struck Summer Taylor and Diaz Love.
Taylor, the veterinary clinic staffer, died Saturday night and Love, 32, of Portland, Oregon, was hospitalized in serious condition with multiple leg and arm fractures and internal injuries, officials said.
In a message posted on Facebook late Sunday, Love reported being “alive and stable.”
“In a lot of pain. I cannot believe Summer was murdered,” Love said. “If they thought this murder would make us back down, they are very wrong. Very wrong.”
The suspect’s lawyer, John Henry Browne, said his client, who is black, did not intentionally hit the protesters and called the crash a “horrible, horrible accident.”
“There’s absolutely nothing political about this case whatsoever,” Browne said. “My client is in tears. He’s very remorseful. He feels tremendous guilt.”
Kelete is a US citizen originally from Eritrea, in Africa, and lives with his parents in Seattle, Browns said, adding that they’re 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 heading the wrong way up the Stewart Street I-5 exit ramp, past several warning signs that said “Wrong Way,” according to the charging document.
Since it was an exit ramp, “a driver must make a deliberate and sharp right U-turn in order to drive southbound on I-5,” the document said.
He was driving at highway speeds when he first noticed the demonstrators, the document said.
A graphic video captured the Jag approaching at a high rate of speed. It appeared to swerve a bit as it came toward two people still in the road. The car slid sideways as it hit the two protesters.
The driver then slowed and turned on his flashers.
“The defendant stopped several hundred yards from the scene,” prosecutors said. “He was approached by witnesses who yelled at him to exit the vehicle. After the witness began hitting and pushing his vehicle, the defendant drove away at a high speed.”
One of the protesters managed to stop Kelete’s car by driving in front of him until troopers arrived. He agreed to take a field sobriety test for drugs and alcohol. The tests showed he was not impaired, police 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 remains in custody on $1.2 million bail and is scheduled to be arraigned on July 22.
With Post wires