Ethan Saylor. He was a 26 year-old who had down syndrome. He died five years ago while in police custody. I know I’ve written about it before but I wanted to revisit Ethan’s case.
Ethan loved the movie Zero Dark Thirty. He loved it so much that while his caretaker when to get the car after they watched it, he snuck back in without paying. The manager of the theater called the police on him. They did not know how to handle a situation with a person with an intellectual disability. They killed him and no one can convince me otherwise.
Ethan loved law enforcement to the point he would call 911 for simple questions. His mother even sent them cookies as a thank you for all of the unnecessary trips they made to her house because of Ethan. How did he end up dead at the hands of police officers?
They were warned:
by his caretaker of how he would react if touched. All they had to do is wait, inform the mom, and I don’t know… not kill him. They did not listen. They simply did not have the training or knowledge to deal with someone with an intellectual disabilities. Its like they had never encountered someone with down syndrome. Yes, he kicked and cursed but he did not understand what was happening!
I think that sometimes people like me that is surrounded by people with disabilities all the time, we forget there is a whole world out there isn’t. The majority of people do not interact with people with disabilities at all and do not even recognize it when they see it. So scary.
They were not in uniform:
He did not recognize them as law enforcement because they were not in uniform. How many times do we sit there and warn our loved ones with disabilities not to trust strangers. Ethan, in his eyes was literally approached by strangers trying to convince him to leave with them.
I don’t know about y’all but that is literally what I am always telling Joel. Do not follow strangers, don’t do what they tell you too, ya know so on and so on. Joel also recognizes police in uniform. He loves them and always daps them off and greets them. I honestly do not think he would recognize people out of uniform as police even if they tell him they are. Joel is usually very obedient to strangers and I do not if that’s good or bad anymore.
Anyway I bring up Ethan’s story again because after five years, they have finally reached a settlement of $1.9 million. The officers were cleared of any wrongdoing. The jury determined that no charges were warranted. As part of the settlement, the state and police deny any liability.
“There’s a cliche that you can’t assign a dollar amount to a human being’s life, but that is our system, that’s the only remedy we have for justice in our system,” Saylor’s mother, Patti Saylor, said Tuesday. “We’re not comforted by the money as much as knowing we gave our son everything we could, that we stood up for him until we exhausted all avenues for standing up for him. Because his life mattered. What happened to him should not have happened.”
I am disgusted. Not by the parents, they did all they could. I am disgusted by the system, by the jury, by the deputies, and by some of the ugliest comments I’ve seen. His parents are heroes. They fought for him until they couldn’t fight anymore. As a result, Maryland (the state this happened) has changed the way they train law enforcement and now teaches how best to interact with people with intellectual disabilities. There is also now a program that was created in Ethan’s memory that teaches people with intellectual disabilities to educate law enforcement during their training. This is what saving down syndrome looks like.
Patti Saylor said after four years of fighting for her son in court, the settlement comes with “mixed emotions.” But, she said, she and Ethan’s father, Ron, agreed the time was right for them to accept it and“focus on healing.”
“It’s been four years of gut-wrenching reports and judges’ opinions and depositions and defending my son’s right to be seen as human, to be seen as valuable,” she said. “I’m relieved that it’s over. I’m tired. But I really feel like as a mom, I did what I needed to do to do right by my son and see this to the very end.”
I hate this story and so many others. But it serves as a reminder of why down syndrome (and basically every other disability) needs to be saved. The world isn’t always a safe place for our loved ones. We need to remember that and do our part. Read Police Brutality and Down Syndrome, a post I wrote a few months ago that speaks more on this.
Here is the article where most of this information was taken from: