Jul 7, 2020

Seattle’s Liability for Protester Traffic Death


The City Bears Special Responsibility?

Severe errors by city government caused a death over the weekend. The use of protests as a political tool backfired-- and created a needless death. Seattle is ground zero for many of the recent demonstrations roiling the nation. The lax attitude of the city allowed protests to prosper. The disorder in the city mirrors similar problems in other Pacific Northwest areas.

Portland is one of the key hotspots for disorder and violence. Now similar violence came to Seattle. The city allowed protesters to use the freeways for their protests. This incredibly dangerous precedent got someone killed over the weekend. Pajamas Media reported on the city's grave mistake.

The Cause of Death?

According to police, 27-year-old Dawit Kelete struck and killed Summer Taylor. Taylor and protesters blocked I-5 during the night at 1:30 Saturday. Kelete was an Ethiopian immigrant and sober at the time. Unfortunately, the city did not enforce rules against blocking roads. Instead, the city blocked off roads to motorists, a key error. Now the Washington State Patrol considers revising their so-called protest policies. Furthermore, the allowance of protesters taking over the streets is a major element of death.

Because the city engaged in selective enforcement, they bear specific liability for the wrongful death. Furthermore, the liability may be off of the driver's shoulders altogether. Kelete would normally be on the hook for a wrongful death auto accident, but there are several key elements here.

First, he was sober. Second, he was driving during a late-night hour when visibility was lower. Third, the errors of city officials directly led to the death. Summer Taylor deciding to enter the freeway is a major factor. For example, blocking a major highway is strictly illegal under normal circumstances. It stands to reason that her family is likely to sue the city for her death-- even if her actions also led towards death.