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Driver Who Killed Summer Taylor Charged With Vehicular Homicide

Illustration for article titled Driver Who Killed Summer Taylor Charged With Vehicular Homicide
Image: Elaine Thompson (AP)

On Wednesday, prosecutors charged Dawit Kelete, the man who drove his vehicle into a group of Black Lives Matter protesters in Seattle and fatally injured the 24-year-old activist Summer Taylor, with vehicular homicide.

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More, from the Seattle Times:

According to the statement of probable cause, Kelete was arrested after he drove a white Jaguar XJL the wrong way up the Stewart Street exit ramp and onto the freeway, which had been closed by Washington State Patrol for what had become nightly protests and marches in support of Black Lives Matter. Traveling at what the complaint says were “freeway speeds,” the car swerved around a barricade of demonstrators’ vehicles and drove into a group of pedestrian protesters who had closed down southbound Interstate 5 near downtown as people screamed and yelled “Car!” Taylor and another protester, Diaz Love, were unable to get out of the way and were struck and thrown several yards into the air.

The horrific incident was recorded on video by bystanders. Kelete’s car was chased by a group security guard and stopped near the I-90 exchange. According to the statement of probable cause, he appeared “sullen” when troopers arrived and “at one point asked if the injured pedestrians were okay.”

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Taylor, who used they/them pronouns, later died from their injuries. Kelete, who reportedly was found with what appeared to be crystal meth in his Jaguar and who told officials that he had an “untreated addiction,” has also been charged with vehicular assault and reckless driving. Kelete’s attorney John Henry Browne told the Associated Press that it was a “horrible, horrible accident” and that there was “nothing political about this case whatsoever.” Browne added of Kelete, who did not remain on the scene and instead drove away after hitting Taylor and one other protester with his car, “My client is in tears. He’s very remorseful. He feels tremendous guilt.”

On Wednesday, Taylor’s family held an emotional press conference remembering their child’s life, from their hope to become a veterinarian to their dedication to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Again, via the Seattle Times:

During the first months of COVID-19, “I couldn’t pry them out of the house,” Dalia Taylor said. “The protests started happening and priorities changed. That’s how important it was.”

Matt Taylor, Summer’s father, said his child had been demonstrating nearly every day since the Black Lives Matter protests began.

“I was very proud,” he said.

Taylor’s family also called for the firing of Mike Brown, a King County Sheriff’s Office detective who had, shortly after Kelete drove his car into the protesters, posted a meme on his Facebook page that read, “All Lives Splatter,” along with an image of several people being hit by a truck. Brown has been suspended pending an internal investigation.

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“That guy needs to be fired now. I think anybody who was liking it, sharing it or doing anything else with it should be fired,” Taylor’s father told reporters on Wednesday. “I think that’s beyond obvious. It’s disgusting and it’s unfathomable to me.”

Senior reporter, Jezebel

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DISCUSSION

I’m confused by this, because Kalete is black and/or Middle Eastern. (And yes, I’ve heard of internalized racism) And he looked more like the protesters than an Alt-Right person. Is it impossible that he was merely loaded and drove up that offramp onto the freeway as an actual accident?