The Ethan Saylor case has dominated my mind, my heart, and my Facebook feed for a few weeks now. I have read just about everything news agencies, bloggers, and organizations have published on it.
(Is your Facebook feed saturated with Ethan Saylor posts? Are you sick of it and fairly sure enough other people are acting on this? Well, you can skip this post if ya want to, but please don’t think someone else is standing up in your place.)
And no matter the slant, no matter the details in one post versus another, an unarmed young man died in police custody in a Regal movie theater in Frederick, MD on January 12. His alleged crime was that he refused to leave the theater after a showing of Zero Dark Thirty was over. Three police officers attempted to remove him and one thing led to another (that is my compilation of the various details I have read) and Ethan wound up handcuffed face down on the floor. Shortly after that, he ended up dead.
His autopsy report states there were several contributing factors leading to his death, and ultimately called it a homicide. The case was internally investigated and then a grand jury in Frederick decided that there was no cause to charge the officers involved with any malfeasance or misconduct of any sort.
How is it possible that a 26 year old man can go to a movie and wind up dead, and nothing is responsible for this except the fact that the man himself was defective?
The National Down Syndrome Congress explains much more clearly than I can that this is a human rights issue. When you read their statement, and find out that the man’s mother was on her way to the theater to diffuse the situation, it is enough to break your heart.
Because really... impatience, unnecessary force, and a lack of judgement is what killed Ethan Saylor.
It is true that Ethan was in the wrong when he refused to leave the theater (he wanted to watch the show again). It is true that Ethan Saylor likely got very upset when attempts were made to physically remove him (witnesses say he cried out for his mommy). It is true that sometimes people with Down syndrome are down right stubborn and refuse to move when you tell them to.
It is also true that if Ethan had been allowed to sit there in the theater and wait for his mom, he would still be alive today... and Regal would be out all of 12 bucks for the seat.
Would that have been special treatment? In my mind every unarmed, out-manned citizen should be treated with patience and the least amount of force possible until all feasible options are exhausted.
If you agree with that, then please consider signing the petition (started two months ago by Ethan’s mom) to request an independent inquiry into the matter.
Raise your hand if you love a police officer (my hand is up). Raise your hand if you think cops put their lives on the line everyday protecting us (my hand is up). Raise your hand if you think all police officers are perfect, that they never misjudge a situation, never make a bad call, and never hurt someone unnecessarily in the course of carrying out their work...
If you put your hand back down, please sign the petition asking the Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler to open an independent investigation to find out what exactly happened that caused Ethan's death.
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