These are the words I shared two years ago upon hearing of the death of Ethan Saylor. *Originally posted Feb 21, 2013.
I’m so sad.
I often say that 95% of the world is great to Marcus. Then I do everything I can to protect him from the other 5%. I never dreamed that 5% would include the police. The news about Robert Saylor, who died in police custody, is a nightmare. Every parent, I think, upon seeing a tragic situation wonders, Could this happen to my child? To Us?
The press indicated that the police report says the Mr. Saylor, a man with Down syndrome, refused to leave a movie theater, kicked and cursed at the police. While I feel my son would not do this, even in his most stubborn moments, I also fear that perhaps Mr. Saylor did not either. And even if he did…was he so threatening to the police they had to place him face first onto the ground? This is when Mr. Saylor’s panic escalated, he couldn’t catch his breath, and he died. These officer’s reactions to an overwrought developmentally disabled man killed him.
Oh how my heart breaks. A caregiver was at the theater, though sadly not with him at the beginning of the confrontation, when she returned, “police ignored her and her efforts to de-escalate the situation.” His mother could have easily been contacted. Instead, no.
A man guilty of wanting to see the movie again and needing a bit more patience and much less force died at the hands of bullies trained, or perhaps not, by the state.
My boy can get choked up on a windy day. Like many people I know, he wears a C-pap at night to help him get enough oxygen. If he were placed face first on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back…
What a terrible thing that has happened. How can it be kept from happening again?
Update: 3-25-13 Marcus and I are travelling. This trip has had many pleasant surprises. One thing has changed however: Me. I have been more skeptical and frightened of, well, people, than I ever have before. And it is because of what happened to Mr. Saylor and, almost as importantly, the lack of responsibility taken by the men who caused him to die combined with the “investigation” that confirmed this (for them). Well, today, please help by calling for an independent investigation. Please add your voice here: http://www.change.org/petitions/justice-for-robert-saylor Also, Thank You to the Down Syndrome Uprising for their commitment.