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Charges filed against man accused of killing Seattle protester on I-5

Dawit Kelete at his bail hearing Monday. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The King County Prosecutor’s Office filed charges Wednesday against a man accused of driving his car onto I-5 in Seattle and hitting two protesters, killing one and injuring the other.

Dawit Kelete is being charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, and reckless driving. His bail was set at $1.2 million on Monday.

According to charging documents, Kelete was spotted on security cameras driving the wrong way up the Stewart Street I-5 exit ramp shortly after 1 a.m. on Saturday, July 4.

“There are numerous red signs warning that the driver is going the wrong way,” the document reads. “Since this is an exit ramp from the SB lanes, a driver must make a deliberate and sharp U-turn in order to drive (southbound) on I-5.”

He then reportedly swerved around cars parked on I-5 protecting a group of Black Femme March demonstrators, part of the Black Lives Matter movement protesting racial inequality and police violence. Driving on the shoulder, he veered sharply left directly into two people, Summer Taylor and Diaz Love. Taylor died Saturday evening after suffering “catastrophic injuries.” Love suffered multiple fractures of her legs and arms, as well as “internal injuries.”

Kelete then stopped “several hundred yards” away from the scene, and was approached by protesters who “began hitting and pushing his vehicle.” He sped away, chased by a man who later told police he was “informally providing security to the demonstrators.” Kelete was eventually stopped by the man, with police arriving “minutes later.”

Kelete was given a breathalyzer test, indicating he had not consumed any alcohol. He later told King County Jail personnel that he was “withdrawing from Percocet and that he struggles with untreated addiction.” Results of a blood test to determine whether he had drugs in his system are pending.

Police found “several implements commonly used to smoke illegal substances” in Kelete’s vehicle, in addition to “a substance that appears similar to crystal methamphetamine.” The substance is pending tests.

Kelete is scheduled to be arraigned, and will presumably enter a plea, at 8:30 a.m. on July 22. He has not currently made bail, and remains in jail.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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