Man pleads guilty to vehicular homicide after running over non-binary BLM protesters who were blocking freeway during Seattle's 2020 'summer of love'

BLM protesters took over I-5 for 19 consecutive nights and the Washington State Patrol was ordered to keep the freeway closed despite the danger and traffic delays.

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Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
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On Thursday, Dawit Kelete pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and vehicular assault with aggravating substantial injuries to the victim, as well as reckless driving after driving a car onto a Seattle freeway that was blocked by Black Lives Matter protestors in 2020, killing one and seriously injuring another.
 

The King County Prosecutor's office said in a statement to The Post Millennial that the statewide sentencing range for vehicular homicide with disregard for the safety of others is set by state lawmakers and for this case is 31-41 months. "Mr. Kelete agreed to [the] recommend[ed] 41 months. The standard statewide sentencing range for vehicular assault, in this case, is 13-17 months, but the substantial injuries suffered by Mx. Love permit a Sentencing Court to impose an exceptional sentence. The parties have agreed to recommend 34 months to run consecutively to the vehicular homicide sentence."



The parties have also agreed to recommend an additional 3 months for the reckless driving charge for a total sentence recommended to the Sentencing Court of six and a half years.



Kelete also will be ordered to 18 months of community custody (probation) with the Department of Correction after his time in custody.

Kelete drove through a group of Black Lives Matter protestors on Interstate 5 in 2020 on the 4th of July.

According to law enforcement, Kelete drove through onto the freeway which had been closed by the Washington State Patrol at I-5 and Olive Way before hitting and killing Summer Taylor, 24, and seriously injuring Diaz Love, 32. Both of the protestors are non-binary.

Love was hospitalized for several weeks following the collision.

Troopers suspect Kelete drove the wrong way onto a ramp and around a barrier in order to get onto the freeway.

The protestors were on the freeway after midnight as part of a BLM protest. WSP began closing the freeway at set times each night after the protestors began marching on the freeway themselves during the deadly occupation of the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

BLM protesters took over I-5 for 19 consecutive nights and the Washington State Patrol was ordered to keep the freeway closed despite the danger and traffic delays. Mere hours after the collision WSP discontinued that permission.

Taylor's family previously announced a lawsuit against the City of Seattle and the State of Washington alleging that there was police abuse during demonstrations and that state patrol failed to protect protesters on I-5 and which resulted in Taylor's death. Diaz also filed suit.

The incident was captured on Washington State Department of Transportation cameras. Many activists incorrectly speculated at the time that Taylor's death was caused by "white supremacists," noting that the incident occurred on the 4th of July.

In a graphic video, people can be seen screaming before scattering, but the two victims could not get out of the way fast enough.

Kelete fled the scene in his Jaguar after the collision. Trooper Chase Van Cleave said at the time that one of the other protesters got in a vehicle and chased the driver for about a mile and was able to stop Kelete by cutting him off.

Kelete passed a sobriety and breathalyzer test after the incident but according to court documents he suffered from opioid addiction. He previously faced charges of assault, trespassing, and malicious mischief, though each charge was eventually dismissed.

Francisco A. Duarte, attorney for Kelete previously claimed that Kelete had been part of the BLM protests and said, “This tragic event was not a political act or statement. On behalf of Kelete and his family, we ask each of you to leave room for the fact that we witnessed a tragic accident and not a crime.”

Kelete's sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 8.
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