1 of 2 protesters hit by vehicle on Seattle freeway dies; man, 27, charged with vehicular assault
One of two people hit by a vehicle that drove onto a closed Seattle highway and into a crowd protesting police brutality has died.
Summer Taylor, 24, of Seattle died Saturday evening at Harborview Medical Center, spokesperson Susan Gregg said.
Taylor and Diaz Love, 32, of Portland, Ore., were hit by the car that barrelled through a panicked crowd of protesters on Interstate 5 early Saturday morning, officials said.
Dawit Kelete, 27, of Seattle has been identified as the suspect. Police say the car was driven around vehicles that were blocking I-5 and sped into the crowd at about 1:40 a.m., said a police report released by the Washington State Patrol. Video taken at the scene by protesters showed people shouting “Car! Car!” before fleeing the roadway.
Love is in serious condition in the intensive care unit at Harborview, Gregg said.
Love was filming the protest in a nearly two-hour-long Facebook live stream captioned “Black Femme March takes I-5” when the video ended abruptly; with about 15 seconds left, shouts of “Car!” can be heard as the camera starts to shake before screeching tires and the sound of impact are heard.
A graphic video posted on social media showed the white Jaguar racing toward a group of protesters who are standing behind several parked cars, set up for protection. The car swerves around the other vehicles and slams into the two protesters, sending them flying into the air.
The driver, who was alone, fled the scene after hitting the protesters, Trooper Chase Van Cleave told The Associated Press. One of the other protesters got in a car and chased the driver for about 1.5 kilometres. He was able to stop him by pulling his car in front of the Jaguar, Van Cleave said.
Troopers arrived, and the driver was put in custody, Washington State Patrol Capt. Ron Mead said.
Kelete was described by officers as reserved and sullen when he was arrested, according to court documents. He also asked if the pedestrians were OK, the documents say.
Charges of vehicular assault, bail denied
Kelete was booked into the King County Correctional Facility on Saturday morning on two counts of vehicular assault. Bail was denied.
A judge found probable cause to hold Kelete on an investigation of vehicular assault. He faces a second court hearing on Monday at which the judge will determine if he can be released on bail, according to court documents.
It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.
Officials were trying to determine the motive, as well as where the driver entered the interstate, which had been closed by the state patrol for more than an hour before the protesters were hit. Mead said police suspect the driver went the wrong way on a ramp. Trooper Rick Johnson said the driver went through a barrier that closed the freeway.
Troopers did not know whether it was a targeted attack, but impairment was not considered a factor, Mead said.
Further I-5 protests won’t be allowed
Kelete has a Seattle address. He is listed in public records as a student who attended Washington State University between 2011 and 2017 majoring in business and commerce. His enrolment status could not be confirmed because the university was closed Saturday.
The Washington State Patrol said Saturday evening that going forward, it won’t allow protesters to enter I-5 and would arrest pedestrians on the freeway.
Seattle has been the site of prolonged unrest following the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked nationwide protests. Dozens of people were arrested this past week in connection with protests as demonstrations continue after authorities cleared the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” zone Wednesday morning.
Protesters had shut down the interstate for 19 days in a row, Mead said at a news conference.
Published at Sun, 05 Jul 2020 16:03:00 +0000