Thursday, October 10, 2013

Killed over a movie ticket: How law enforcement hurts people with disabilities

How law enforcement hurts people with disabilities

A man with Down syndrome died in a confrontation with police. Officers need better training before more people die

On Jan. 12, Robert “Ethan” Saylor of Frederick County, Md., a 26-year-old man with Down syndrome and an IQ of 40, died of asphyxiation after a confrontation with three off-duty police officers. He was being restrained for attempting to see “Zero Dark Thirty” for a second time without a ticket. According to witnesses, Saylor’s last words included “it hurt” and “call my mom.”
Saylor’s ashes now sit in the family’s living room while the three officers continue their usual shifts. No charges have been filed.
Saylor’s death stands out as especially tragic, not only because he loved police officers. Despite testimony from Saylor’s aide that she told the officers to “be patient” and let her “handle it,” a local grand jury decided not to file criminal charges. In late July, the federal government finally took note and opened an investigation into whether police violated Saylor’s civil rights.

This slow-moving process reveals something disturbing: Our law enforcement system often fails to protect people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and, in some cases, is complicit in their abuse.

Read on in the original article:

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