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Summer Taylor vigil, lawsuit
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Wrongful death lawsuit filed against city, state over slain Seattle protester

A crowd gathered for a rally and vigil in memory of Summer Taylor in July. (Hanna Scott, KIRO Radio)

Plaintiffs on behalf of a handful of protesters and families announced a wrongful death and personal injury lawsuit Friday, filed against the City of Seattle and Washington state.

Rally, vigil held Wednesday in memory of slain Seattle protester

Plaintiffs include the family of Summer Taylor, who was killed during a protest by a man identified as Dawit Kelete. Kelete was charged in late-July with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, and reckless driving.

Kelete 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, Taylor and Diaz Love. Taylor died after suffering “catastrophic injuries.” Love suffered multiple fractures of her legs and arms, as well as “internal injuries.”

The lawsuit alleges that “in response to protests against police discrimination and brutality, the SPD chose to engage in discrimination and brutality,” and that it “defied conditions of a Federal Consent decree,” as well as “its own policies, practices and procedures.”

Regarding Taylor’s death, it goes on to claim that the city and state both “knew of the risks posed to protesters, including risks from both unsuspecting freeway motorists as well as drivers targeting protesters,” and that despite implementing a policy of closing the freeway when protesters were present, it didn’t actually achieve “full closure.”

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

“At least twice prior to July 4th, motorists penetrated the closures, putting motorists and protesters alike at risk,” the lawsuit reads.

During a Friday press conference announcing the lawsuit, plaintiffs noted that many of these same protesters now have PTSD from witnessing Taylor’s death, as well as from ongoing clashes with police in recent months.

The lawsuit seeks damages from the city and state, and sets a series of trial and discovery deadlines between March 2021 and September 2021. The trial date is currently set for Sept. 27, 2021.

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