Recently, I was nominated for the Liebster Award. The Liebster is a way to help find and discover new blogs – those with under 200 followers.
However, in reading this story about the “pat-on-the-back” that the Grand Jury gave to 3 Frederick Sheriff Deputies that killed Robert Ethan Saylor, I found another word I hate the sound of even more than those 3 words.
Ethan Saylor was killed because he was sitting in a movie theatre after the show, waiting for his chaperone to pull the car around. He refused to leave, probably having been told to stay in the theatre by his chaperone. Sitting in movie theaters after the movie is evidence of al-qaeda activity in Frederick, MD, and so not 1 … not 2 …but 3 off-duty sheriff deputies, moonlighting at the theater, were called in to help.
Things rapidly got out of hand: in the end, 3 men put Ethan face down on the ground – hands cuffed behind his back. [SEE FOOTNOTE, BELOW] Ethan died a slow and painful death in that position – positional asphyxiation was the cause of the homicide as determined by the coroner.
What does it take for a human being to cry out for their Mommy? Very few of us have ever heard this sound, but we all instinctively recognize it as the most primal plea for help and mercy.
To utter such a primal plea for help, one must be in a state of absolute terror: a soldier on a battlefield cries out for his mother in his dying breath.
Take just one minute – 60 seconds – close your eyes and think how terrified you (or your child) would have to feel to cry out for their Mommy.
I’m crying right now as I fear the possibility that any one of my children might experience that feeling someday.
No citizen – Down Syndrome or Neuro-Typical – should ever have to feel that terror. Especially not at the hands of law-enforcement personnel. Especially not over sitting in a movie theatre waiting for a chaperone to bring the car around.
The reason that Ethan Saylor’s last feeling on this earth was that of sheer terror is because Lieutenant Scott Jewell, Sergeant Rich Rochford and Deputy First Class James Harris over-reacted to a situation.
They over-reacted to a situation because they were not properly trained in use-of-force and de-escalation techniques for citizens with Down Syndrome.
They were not properly trained because there are no such use-of-force or de-escalation techniques available to them.
(That such techniques should have been available to them pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act is something I am sure will be brought out in the lawsuit against the individuals and agencies that played a role in this homicide).
Back to the original question: “What is a word I hate the sound of?”
The word is terror. The story of Ethan Saylor’s death is how that word sounds.
3/25/2013: I just spoke with the Richardson, Texas, Police (a small suburb of Dallas). They informed me that they stopped using the “hog-tie” hold almost a decade ago because of the myriad situations where this hold could lead to death. Way to go, Richardson Police — and thanks for calling me back!!
Please take 2 actions to help effectuate change after the death of Ethan Saylor:
2) Contact all one (or all) of these organizations responsible for training police officers around the country. (Ask them to consult with the medical and DS community and put in place a training module for use-of-force and de-escalation guidelines for police that interact with citizens that have Down Syndrome)
International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) (click on link for contact page)
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) (no contact page on website, use email and phone)
Email: [email protected]
Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). (no contact page or email, use phone number)