Death by Cop

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:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/settlement-reached-in-police-custody-death-of-man-with-down-syndrome/2018/04/24/7d53c0ca-47fe-11e8-827e-190efaf1f1ee_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.e4bd11745520

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Police Brutality and Down Syndrome

I wrote this post last year on Facebook because it was heavy on my heart. I started it off like this, “In honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month I am making this post because I love someone with Down syndrome and I feel the need to share this. Please tell me again how police brutality isn’t a thing. ( I know not all cops are bad, I know)” And I posted this picture. Police

These words and this topic is still heavy on my heart. Police brutality in general. Writing this wasn’t easy and I know this pictures and their stories are tough, but I think it’s important to talk about it.

Ethan

This is Ethan. He died over a movie ticket at the hands of police. He really loved the movie Zero Dark Dirty and refused to leave the theater for the next showing because he didn’t understand that he needed to buy another ticket. The cops came in and weren’t patient, got forceful and violent with him. Pinned him to the ground and handcuffed him in the process his trachea was fractured and he died of asphyxiation. They tried to blame it on the paramedic that tried to safe his life.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/syndrome-man-movies-ends-morgue/story?id=20046376

Gilberto

This is Gilberto, he was walking home when police noticed a bulge on his side ( his colostomy bag) and found it necessary to beat him, handcuff him, and rip off his colostomy bag. Claims they didn’t know he had Down syndrome and thought it was a gun…. really?? One of the cops said that he was not a doctor, therefore he could not have known. Were they blind or deaf?? First off you can see it in his face and second you can hear it in his voice. Yeah he tried to run but come on… he was scared and didn’t understand.

https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Man-With-Down-Syndrome-in-Clash-With-Cops-129820353.html

antonio

This is Antonio’s father protesting for justice for what was done to his son. Antonio was walking to his parents bakery when also stopped by police, pepper sprayed, beaten, and handcuffed. Why? He had a Hoodie on and looked “suspicious” since they were answering a call about domestic violence. Once again when they stopped him, couldn’t they see it? Couldn’t they hear it?

https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/SDSO-Settlement-Excessive-Force-Deputy-Jeffrey-Guy-Tony-Martinez-Vista-311588001.html

jeremy

This is Jeremy who took his moms van out for a ride and his mother trusted the police to bring him home safe. Instead the police that responded to the call ended up shooting at him 3 times nearly killing him. He lied about the threat to his life as seen in the traffic cam video.

https://photographyisnotacrime.com/2016/01/palm-beach-sheriff-settles-for-500000-for-down-syndrome-teen-they-shot-down/

Juan

This is Juan. He was also walking home when police were responding to a call about robbery and the suspect they were looking for was white and 5’8 when they spotted Juan who is obviously Hispanic has Down syndrome and is 4’11. When he saw the police he began to run home and as soon as he reached his parents in the driveway and hugged his mom the police pulled him away from her tackles him to the ground and as his parents were trying to defend their son and tell the police that Juan had Down syndrome, they pushed his mom to the ground and yelled horrific racial slurs at them like go back to your country and wetbacks. When they finally got him in the back of the police car they came to the realization that he couldn’t be the suspect and realized him and told his parents they were lucky they didn’t shoot him.

http://www.cleveland.com/court-justice/index.ssf/2016/12/man_with_down_syndrome_frustra.html

We need better police training and accountability. Down syndrome is not a crime neither does it make someone suspicious.

We need to do our part for our loved ones with disabilities as well. We can introduce them to the local police department and getting cards like the one below. Joel was very excited when he got his in the mail. Mostly because the envelope had his name on it and he never received mail. He showed it to everyone in the house. I do see complications in Joel’s case because he won’t be able to verbalize that he is reaching for his wallet or card if he is every stopped by police, it’s something we’ll have to work on. But we’re one step closer to being safer.

I found a non profit based in Florida that creates and sends people with disability a card to help them interact with police and first responders for free!

http://www.justdigit.org/wallet-cards/

 

Stay safe and educated! Happy Down Syndrome Awareness Month!