On January 12, 2013 in Frederick, MD, 26-year-old Ethan Saylor went to see the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” in a theater inside a mall. After the movie, Ethan wanted to see it again. Someone told him he needed to buy another ticket. Ethan had Down syndrome — a genetic condition that impairs physical growth and intelligence. Ethan does not carry cash. He had an IPhone. Because his mom later saw four, 4-1-1 calls on his IPhone, she believes he was using it to try to get information on how to purchase another ticket using his IPhone.
However, the off-duty sheriff deputies moonlighting as mall security didn’t listen to Saylor’s aide who told them to wait it out. Ethan’s mom was on the way and he just needed some time.
The deputies grabbed Ethan out of his seat. A heavy guy weighing 294 lbs, they drug him to the door and face-down, three deputies were on him in a heap putting on handcuffs, with Ethan on the bottom. Witnesses say that Ethan cried out “Ouch!” “Don’t touch me!” “I need help, Mommy.” Then he went silent. When the officers realized Ethan was no longer breathing, they turned him over and tried to resuscitate him.
Ethan’s mom was 5 minutes away from the theater when she received a call diverting her to the hospital.
An autopsy showed that Ethan’s larynx had been crushed and he died by suffocation. The medical examiner ruled Ethan Saylor’s death a homicide.
David Tolleson, Executive Director of the National Down Syndrome Congress, stated, “Advancements for people with disabilities have created more opportunities for inclusion in society, which means more people with disabilities are more likely to be “out in the community. It is critical that law enforcement agencies learn strategies on how to ‘support, serve and protect’ people with disabilities”
A grand jury cleared the three officers of wrongdoing. The case inflamed disability groups, some of which have started online petitions to demand justice for Ethan. Ethan’s sister has started a petition on change.org, requesting Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley to conduct an independent investigation and formal training of police.
More on this story here.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.