‘Everybody loved Summer.’ Family of protester killed on I-5 speaks out

SEATTLE — Summer Taylor’s family described the 24-year-old as a born leader, who had been fiercely driven by a sense of compassion. Compassion--they said--which later guided years of work as a veterinary technician, and as an ardent defender of oppressed people.

“Summer was the most outgoing, creative, smart, charismatic, person,” said Matt Taylor, Summer’s father. “Everybody loved Summer.”

Taylor was killed July 4 while on a nightly protest which closed down I-5 with a Black Lives Matter group.

While Taylor’s family shared memories in an emotional meeting with reporters, King County prosecutors charged 27-year-old Dawit Kelete--the driver accused of killing Taylor and badly injuring fellow protester, 32-year-old Diaz Love.

Kelete was charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, and reckless driving, and is jailed on $1.2 million bail.

According to charging papers, Kelete drove the wrong way on an off ramp at freeway speeds, passed a barricade of three cars blocking protestors, and veered sharply left directly into Summer Taylor and Diaz Love.

Protesters who had been using their cars as barricades during the protest chased Kelete and stopped his car before police arrived. Investigators say Kelete showed no signs of impairment, although they did find drug paraphenalia in his car.

Matt Taylor addressed social media posts which ridiculed Summer Taylor’s death.

“There are a lot of hateful people saying hateful things about my child, who’s gone,” Matt Taylor said. “Including people at the King County Sheriff’s department.”

Taylor was referring to a meme reportedly posted on Facebook by King County detective Mike Brown, showing people being hit by a truck with the words,” All Lives Splatter.”

Brown, a cousin of Governor Jay Inslee, is on paid leave during an internal ethics investigation. “That guy needs to be fired now,” said Taylor.

“I think anybody who was liking it, sharing it, or doing anything else with it should all be fired,” she said. Summer’s family says being so strident about justice and empathy was often interpreted as overbearing--but they’re proud of Summer’s activism, and hope it leads to major changes.

“That was just because they were so passionate about their beliefs,” said Summer Taylor’s brother, Luke Taylor.

“It was always out of love, and it was always out of care.”