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Monday, July 6, 2020

PICTURED: Black man, 27, who knocked down and killed a Black Lives Matter protester

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The black driver who police say hit and killed a Black Lives Matter protester in Seattle is thought to have driven the wrong way down a ramp before asking if the demonstrators he hit were ok. 

Dawit Kelete, 27, drove his car around vehicles that were blocking I-5 and sped into the crowd about 1:40am Saturday, according to a police report. Protesters have been walking on the freeway since the death of George Floyd in police custody. 

Washington State Patrol Capt. Ron Mead said they suspect Kelete drove the wrong way on a ramp. Trooper Rick Johnson said the driver went through a barrier that closed the freeway.

Summer Taylor, 24, succumbed to injuries sustained during the collision. Diaz Love, 32, also of Portland, Oregon, was also hit and remained in serious condition Sunday. 

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. 

He is now in custody awaiting a court hearing on Monday at which the judge will determine if he can be released on bail, according to court documents.  

Officials are now trying to determine the motive as well as where he got onto the interstate, which had been closed by the state patrol for more than an hour before the protesters were hit. 

Kelete was booked into the King County Correctional Facility on Saturday morning on two counts of vehicular assault. Bail was denied. He is not said to have drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the crash.

Dawit Kelete, 27, drove the car around vehicles that were blocking I-5 and sped into the crowd about 1:40am Saturday, according to a police report

Summer Taylor, 24, has died in hospital, less than 24 hours after they were struck by a car which  plowed into a crowd of demonstrators in Seattle

Dawit Kelete, 27, left, drove the car around vehicles that were blocking I-5 and sped into the crowd about 1:40am Saturday, according to a police report. Summer Taylor, 24, right, succumbed to injuries sustained during the collision

Kelete, who was alone, fled the scene after hitting the protesters, Trooper Chase Van Cleave said. One of the other protesters got in a car and chased the driver for about a mile. He was able to stop him by pulling his car in front of the Jaguar, pictured Van Cleave

Kelete, who was alone, fled the scene after hitting the protesters, Trooper Chase Van Cleave said. One of the other protesters got in a car and chased the driver for about a mile. He was able to stop him by pulling his car in front of the Jaguar, pictured Van Cleave

Trooper Rick Johnson said the driver went through a barrier that closed the freeway.

Official do not know whether it was a targeted attack, but impairment was not considered a factor, Mead said Sunday.

Video taken at the scene by protesters showed people shouting ‘Car! Car!’ before fleeing the roadway. 

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.

Kelete was described by officers as reserved and sullen when he was arrested, according to court documents

Kelete was described by officers as reserved and sullen when he was arrested, according to court documents

Injured protester Love shared a picture from her hospital bed Sunday, writing: ‘I’m alive and stable. 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.

‘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.’ 

Taylor, who worked at a Seattle veterinary clinic, was described as ‘an incredibly strong and independent spirit’ in a GoFundMe account set up after the crash. 

‘Summer is a bright and caring person whose presence elicits joy and laughter in others’, the account – which has raised more than $40,000 – reads.   

Taylor, who the post said used they and them pronouns, was ‘a positive force of nature’ and brought joy, the post said. ‘Anyone that works for Urban Animal will tell you that Summer Taylor’s laugh makes any bad day better.’

Katelyn Hoberecht, who worked with Taylor at the veterinary clinics, told the Seattle Times that Taylor had been a frequent presence at protests.

‘Summer has been there since day one standing up for Black lives. Staying out all day and night, while still working full time taking care of animals,’ Hoberecht said. 

‘Summer talked to me about the protests, and how incredible it was to be a part of something so huge. A part of history.’  

The collision sent the two protesters flying into the air, leaving one of them with life-threatening injuries and the other with serious injuries

The collision sent the two protesters flying into the air, leaving one of them with life-threatening injuries and the other with serious injuries

Injured protester Love shared a picture from her hospital bed Sunday

Injured protester Love shared a picture from her hospital bed Sunday

Kelete, who was alone, fled the scene after hitting the protesters, Trooper Chase Van Cleave said. 

One of the other protesters got in a car and chased the driver for about a mile. 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.  

Diaz Love, 32, (pictured) was also struck by the white Jaguar during the hit-and-run. They remain in a serious condition at Harborview Medical center

Diaz Love, 32, (pictured) was also struck by the white Jaguar during the hit-and-run. They remain in a serious condition at Harborview Medical center

Love and fellow protester, Diaz Love, are pictured being put into an ambulances by first responders after they were hit by a speeding car on Interstate 5

Love and fellow protester, Diaz Love, are pictured being put into an ambulances by first responders after they were hit by a speeding car on Interstate 5

A judge found probable cause to hold Kelete on an investigation of vehicular assault.

It was not immediately clear if Kelete had an attorney who could speak on his behalf. 

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 enrollment status could not be confirmed because the university was closed over the weekend.

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.

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