Do you know why the Robert Ethan Saylor case is so disturbing? There are lots of links and blogs and articles out there, but here's the quick’n dirty version:
1. The officers’ unreasonable & disproportionate use of force.
This began when Ethan didn’t want to leave a movie theater. I don’t claim he had the right to stay, but his caretaker was nearby and his mother was on her way to intervene. There is no evidence *Ethan* became violent. He died over the price of a movie ticket.
2. The officers’ failure to respect the risks of positional asphyxia.
You cannot place handcuffed subjects face down. The risk of death in this position has been well known to law enforcement for decades but the officers did it anyway and Ethan died. That is textbook gross criminal negligence.
3. The Medical Examiner’s report blamed his death on Down syndrome.
The Attorney General of Maryland wrote, “The opinion of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner was that a 25 year Caucasian male, Robert Ethan Saylor, died of asphyxia, Down’s Syndrome [sic]… This individual was already compromised by his Down’s Syndrome.”
Down syndrome is NOT a cause of death.
4. The lack of an impartial unbiased grand jury hearing.
The same department that employs the officers investigated his death. There were 17 eye witnesses but not one of them testified in front of the grand jury. The jurors heard ONLY from the 3 officers & the Medical Examiner (the same one who cited Down syndrome as a cause of death). Do we know what happened? No. But neither does the grand jury. They failed to pursue charges.
5. The failure of the Department of Justice to open a civil rights case on Mr. Saylor’s death.
Following the grand jury hearing, the DOJ met with several national Ds groups; Lou Ruffino then said “We're trying to assess the situation and see how much "community tension" there is.” Since when do civil rights depend on community tension? Do we really need to riot to get them to do their job?
6. The “training” issue.
Several groups have mentioned additional training as a salve but this provides no justice for the family and simply emphasizes the “difference” that is Down syndrome. No officer can be trained on every contingency with every type of disability - but they can be expected to act proportionately & with common sense. These officers have neither and do not deserve to patrol Maryland's streets or interact with its children.
If this disturbs you, there are two (yes, I know, sorry) petitions you can sign at change.org and whitehouse.gov. You can email or mail form letters from here, or tweet #justiceforethan to anyone you think might give a damn. Thanks.