Protester hurt by driver during 2020 Black Lives Matter demonstration sues

SEATTLE — A Seattle resident critically injured by a driver during a Black Lives Matter demonstration has filed a lawsuit against the state, city and suspected driver.

Dawit Kelete is accused of hitting two protesters, killing one of them, after driving around roadway barricades and taking an offramp onto Interstate 5 on July 4, 2020.

The Seattle Times reported the King County Superior Court lawsuit filed by Diaz Love — who sustained a traumatic brain injury, multiple fractures, lacerations, displacements and other physical wounds — alleges Kelete was driving negligently. The suit filed Tuesday also alleges state and city agencies failed to block all access ramps to Interstate 5 and refused to protect vulnerable protesters.

The lawsuit names as defendants the State Patrol, state Department of Transportation, Seattle Mayor’s Office and Seattle Police Department.

It alleges the agencies failed to reinstate a policy banning pedestrians from obstructing freeways during protests and wrongly prohibited and removed protesters’ support vehicles, which are sometimes used as protective barricades.

Kelete was able to access I-5 because the agencies failed to block the offramps, the lawsuit alleges.

Kelete told jail officials he was struggling with an “untreated addiction,” and WSP investigators found “several implements commonly used to smoke illegal substances” and a substance that appeared to be “similar to crystal methamphetamine” in the car he was driving, according to charging papers.

A WSP drug-recognition expert determined he had not been drinking and did not appear to be under the influence, according to the charges.

Kelete pleaded not guilty to vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and reckless driving charges in late July 2020.

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