In Legal Peril, Seattle’s ‘Belltown Hellcat’ Is Ordered to Yield

A man whose thundering Dodge Charger has tormented Seattle residents for months was ordered Tuesday to pay a fine of more than $83,000, the most serious penalty the city has imposed in months of enforcement efforts that have, until now, been largely ineffective.

Miles Hudson, the driver who is known to many downtown residents and his more than 750,000 Instagram followers as the Belltown Hellcat, appeared in Seattle Municipal Court wearing a balaclava and sunglasses that shielded his face from the waiting television crews. He told Judge Faye Chess that he had been working on restoring the car to its factory design.

“I do have documentation of my car being in the shop and parts being ordered if the court would like to see that,” Mr. Hudson told the court.

The judge was not ready to let him off the hook, though, agreeing to the city’s request to issue penalties for violations of the city’s noise rules. City officials said the fine was assessed at $1,300 per day.

“Today’s ruling is a meaningful step toward stopping Mr. Hudson’s hazardous and nuisance activity,” Ann Davison, the Seattle city attorney, said in a statement. “Our laws matter, and it’s time for him to comply with them.”

Downtown residents have complained for much of the year about the tiger-striped muscle car that roars through the city at night, its tailpipes backfiring with such force that windows rattle, waking people to what some have mistaken for gunfire.

A police officer who stopped Mr. Hudson one night pleaded with him to take his vehicle to a racetrack, footage from the officer’s body camera indicates, with Mr. Hudson responding that he could not because he was making a living from his large following on Instagram, where he regularly posts videos of his exploits in urban driving, sometimes at speeds topping 100 miles per hour.

At times, Mr. Hudson has seemed to relish his growing notoriety and the consternation of both neighbors and police officers. One night, from his apartment in a high-rise tower in the city’s Belltown neighborhood — a residence that offers a panoramic view of Seattle’s waterfront — he shot a video as he started his car remotely from his balcony and the vehicle roared to life.

“My city actually hates me,” he told viewers.

In addition to the lawsuit filed by the city that led to Tuesday’s default judgment, he has been charged with reckless driving, a charge that is still pending. Mr. Hudson said he would consult his lawyer about paying the fine and said he had expected the lawyer to be present at Tuesday’s hearing.

The driving violations are just some of Mr. Hudson’s legal troubles. In the Seattle suburb of Renton, a court is revisiting the terms of two previous domestic cases involving Mr. Hudson and his mother.

In a 2021 case, according to police documents, Mr. Hudson grew angry when his mother was late to pick him up from a haircut. When they returned home, both she and Mr. Hudson told the police, Mr. Hudson angrily knocked over her armoire and pounded a hole in the back of it. He was initially charged with malicious mischief.

The following year, according to another police report, Mr. Hudson’s mother reported that he had demanded that she make him coffee. When she refused, she said, he grabbed the back of the chair she was sitting in and pulled it to the ground, sending her sprawling backward. She said he had then taken her laptop, locked himself in his room and told her that she would not get it back until she made him coffee. He was charged in that case with assault.

Mr. Hudson eventually pleaded guilty to the assault charge, with much of the jail sentence suspended if he met conditions such as no criminal violations. But the court is now revisiting the case in light of his recent legal troubles.

In yet another case, a woman last month filed for a protection order against Mr. Hudson, accusing him of stalking her. She reported that he had waited outside her workplace late one night and followed her home. She also told the court that he had sent sexually explicit images of her to other people without her consent, which she described in her petition as “revenge porn.”

Judge Chess told Mr. Hudson that the city might want to work with him on resolving the case and that the amount of the fine could be revisited in the future.

“Perhaps more work can be done and this car can be put into legal mode,” she said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *