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Bail Set for Driver Who Hit Protesters 07/07 06:51

   

   SEATTLE (AP) -- A judge on Monday set a $1.2 million bail for the man 
accused of driving a Jaguar on to a closed Seattle freeway and hitting two 
protesters, killing one and seriously injuring the other.

   Dawit Kelete, who is Black, drove the car around vehicles that were parked 
on Interstate 5 to protect a group of Black Femme March demonstrators, part of 
the Black Lives Matter movement protesting racial inequality and police 
violence. The car hit two people and sped away about 1:40 a.m. Saturday, police 
said.

   Over the weekend, a judge found probable cause to hold Kelete on an 
investigation of vehicular assault.

   But the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office has yet to file charges 
against Kelete. It says it's waiting for additional required information from 
the State Patrol.

   "A charging decision is expected by Wednesday afternoon," spokesman Casey 
McNerthney said.

   Kelete's lawyer, John Henry Browne, said the crash was a "horrible, horrible 
accident" and was not intentional.

   "There's absolutely nothing political about this case whatsoever," Browne 
told The Associated Press. "My client is in tears. He's very remorseful. He 
feels tremendous guilt."

   Kelete is originally from Eritrea and is a U.S. citizen, Browne said. He 
lives with his family in Seattle, and they're very religious, he said.

   Kelete was the owner of the Jaguar XJL and was alone in the car, according 
to a Washington State Patrol report submitted to the court late Saturday.

   The protesters screamed and scattered as the car approached. A graphic video 
shows the vehicle approaching at a high rate of speed. It appeared to swerve 
slightly as it came toward two people still in the road. The car slid sideways 
as it hit the two protesters, sending them into the air. The driver turned on 
his flashers just after impact, and drove away.

   Summer Taylor, a 24-year-old veterinary clinic worker, suffered critical 
injuries and died Saturday night. Diaz Love, 32, from Portland, Oregon, was in 
serious condition.

   "I'm alive and stable," Love posted on Facebook late Sunday. "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.

   Love also said: "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."

   After Kelete was stopped by state troopers, he agreed to take a field 
sobriety test for drugs and alcohol. The tests showed he was not impaired, the 
state patrol said.

   "The driver was reserved and appeared sullen throughout his time in 
custody," Trooper James McGuire wrote in the arrest report. "At one point he 
asked if the injured pedestrians were okay."

   Kelete, 27, was booked into the King County Correctional Facility on 
Saturday morning on two counts of vehicular assault.

   Seattle has been the site of prolonged unrest following the May police 
killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked nationwide protests. 
Dozens of people were arrested last week in connection with protests as 
demonstrations continued after authorities cleared the "Capitol Hill Occupied 
Protest" zone in downtown Seattle.

   The state patrol had closed a section of I-5 for 19 days in a row because of 
the protesters, troopers said. It had been closed to traffic for more than an 
hour before the crash.

   The state patrol said going forward it won't allow protesters to enter I-5 
and would arrest pedestrians on the freeway.

 
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