A man who drove his car into Seattle protesters earlier this month — killing one — is now facing the possibility of spending a long time behind bars.
The Associated Press reports that 27-year-old Dawit Kelete was charged on Wednesday with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, and reckless driving, all three of which are felonies.
Deadly incident in Seattle
According to prosecutors, the entire incident involving Kelete was caught on camera, as The Washington Post reports. The footage reportedly shows Kelete, alone in his Jaguar XJL, getting on I-5 freeway in the wrong direction, via the Stewart Street exit ramp, and then proceeding to drive at a high speed, passing several “wrong way” signs, until he reached a group of protesters.
At the time, the Seattle freeway was shut down to accommodate a Black Lives Matter demonstration.
With Kelete’s vehicle rapidly approaching, the protesters attempted to clear the area, but two people who remained on the roadway were struck by the vehicle. On the video footage, it does appear that Kelete tried to swerve a bit — perhaps to avoid the protesters.
Nonetheless, Summer Taylor, a 24-year-old veterinary clinic worker, and Diaz Love, a 32-year-old Portland, Oregon, resident — could not escape the impact. Taylor’s injuries ultimately resulted in her death, while Love remains in the hospital and was reportedly in serious condition, according to the AP.
After hitting these two women and driving about another hundred yards, Kelete stopped his vehicle. Witnesses attempted to force him to exit his vehicle, at which point Kelete drove away, the AP noted.
Eventually, one of the protesters managed to get his vehicle in front of Kelete’s, stopping the suspect from proceeding. Subsequently, a police officer arrived on the scene and placed Kelete under arrest.
According to Kelete and his attorney, the whole event was simply a “horrible, horrible accident.”
“There’s absolutely nothing political about this case whatsoever,” Kelete’s lawyer, John Henry Browne, said, according to USA Today. “My client is in tears. He’s very remorseful. He feels tremendous guilt.”
Reports indicate that Kelete, upon being arrested, was screened for drugs and alcohol, but those tests found him to be sober. According to The Washington Post, arresting officer James McGuire said: “The driver was reserved and appeared sullen throughout his time in custody. At one point he asked if the injured pedestrians were OK.”
Kelete is currently being held on a $1.2 million bond, according to The New York Times, and his arraignment is scheduled for July 22.