State of Washington vs Dawit Kelete, Vehicular Homicide and Vehicular Assault Prosecution, Arraignment, July 22, 2020
On Wednesday July 22, 2020, an African American man named Dawit Kelete was arraigned in King County Superior Court on charges of Vehicular Homicide, Vehicular Assault, and Reckless Driving.
Seattle's King County Prosecuting Attorney's office has accused Dawit Kelete, a twenty-seven (27) year old African American man, of Vehicular Homicide, Vehicular Assault, and Reckless Driving. Criminal charges against Dawit Kelete have been filed in King County Superior Court by Seattle's King County Prosecuting Attorney's office. The King County prosecuting attorney's office accuses Dawit Kelete of having driven into two political protesters who had been demonstrating at a Black Lives Matter political protest on a section of the I-5 interstate expressway which passes through downtown Seattle. Dawit Kelete is alleged to have somehow entered onto the closed highway, possibly by mistakenly using an exit ramp as an entrance to the closed highway, after which Mr. Kelete is alleged by the prosecuting attorney to have apparently accelerated to highway speed before first swerving to the left to avoid a much larger group of people on the highway, and then having collided with two protesters who had hadn't run to the side of the road with the larger group, Summer Taylor who died afterward, and Diaz Love who remains hospitalized at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center. Neither of the two Black Lives Matter political demonstration protesters that the King County Prosecuting Attorney's office alleges were struck by Dawit Kelete's car, neither Summer Taylor nor Diaz Love, seems to be, or seems to have been, African American.
The Vehicular homicide criminal prosecution of Dawit Kelete has become high profile national news, since it is intertwined with the racial justice political protests that have transpired in Seattle since Saturday May 30, 2020, and throughout the United States, political protests that continue even as the criminal prosecution of Dawit Kelete has begun. Television news has sensationalized the criminal prosecution of Dawit Kelete, an African American man whose life is now forever intertwined with the Black Lives Matter political demonstrations in Seattle, Washington. In addition, social media is overloaded with unsubstantiated misinformation and outlandish speculation about this case, and about Dawit Kelete.
This Studio 2.8 exclusive video presentation is currently the only publicly available video presentation of the King County Superior Court's arraignment of Dawit Kelete. Note, however, that this Studio 2.8 exclusive documentary video presentation does not include the preamble legal argument portion of the court's hearing, during which defense attorney Francisco Duarte, and Karen Koehler the attorney who represents the alleged victim(s), but not senior deputy prosecuting attorney Amy Freedheim, argued about media access. After the court's primary ruling regarding the media, Dawit Kelete's defense attorney, Francisco Duarte, stated that, "it is not lost on me, however, your honor, that as Ms. Koehler and others were advocating for the filming of Dawit, who say they believe in Black Lives Matter, have no problem with a black male being paraded in this courtroom, assaulting the presumption of innocence", as Mr. Duarte continued to vigorously try to convince the court to present his client in a manner that, to whatever extent might be possible, might protect Dawit Kelete's right to constitutional due process. King County Superior Court's chief criminal judge, the honorable Patrick Oishi, the experienced judge who presided over this hearing, ruled in favor of the media present showing the defendant in the courtroom. Mr. Kelete's defense attorney passionately argued against media showing Dawit Kelete in the courtroom. However, the court permitted the unusual gesture of allowing the defendant Dawit Kelete to enter the courtroom without handcuffs on. As the court's arraignment hearing proceeded, Dawit Kelete, an African American man of slight build and small stature, stood placidly, with his hands voluntarily behind his back throughout the hearing. In an apparent effort to vigorously defend his client, defense attorney Francisco Duarte reserved further debate regarding Dawit Kelete's bail for a separate hearing. Defense attorney Francisco Duarte likely reserved bail argument for a future hearing to provide himself time to prepare a written motion for bail reduction, a written motion containing detailed presentation of facts and legal argument with case law citation, in the hope of increasing the possibility that the court might reduce Dawit Kelete's bail to an amount at which Kelete's supporters might be able to obtain a bail bond.