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Death by Down Syndrome


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Zero Dark Thirty Death

Earlier this year a young man with Down Syndrome sat in a Maryland theater watching “Zero Dark Thirty.” He remained seated for the next showing. Moments later he was dead.

Three off-duty sheriff’s deputies having hand-cuffed him, stood over as he asphyxiated. Ruled a homicide by the county coroner, his death is attributed to his having “anger problems” and conditions associated with Down syndrome according to the medical examiner. A Frederick County grand jury failed to indict the 3 deputies on criminal charges.

Robert “Ethan” Saylor’s homicide attributed to DS

Out One

The deputies are out of jeopardy, the theater manager initiating the confrontational action is out of a paid movie ticket, and the family of Robert “Ethan” Saylor are out one son.

Does not seem fair does it? Unless you fall into category 1 or 2 that is.

Positive Change

I have come to know a dad who is blessed by a child with Down syndrome at Little Bird’s Dad. He (LBD) chronicles the events and coverage of Ethan’s homicide in a special section of his blog site.

He also attempted to chronicle the training available to professional law enforcement officers for addressing citizens with Down syndrome. You will find nothing in that section. There are none.

As a dad with a child blessed by Down syndrome I am furious. As a law enforcement officer for over 2 decades, I am furious. As a person feeling the double edges of this sword, I am focused.

Will You Stand in the Gap

LBD & I are beginning the process to unite a team passionate for change. We want to make a meaningful contribution by developing a training & awareness curriculum for cops when confronting our kids, friends & neighbors with DS.

This is not an attack against the deputies, the movie manager, the medical examiner, NGO, or any bureaucracy. This is a laser-focused effort to create something useful for law enforcement and the emergency services community who engage citizens with DS on a regular basis.

The more we encourage our kids to live independently, the more often they shall interact with law enforcement or public safety. We want to develop a fair playing field.

There is an unfortunate gap of knowledge & understanding in policing. Will you stand in the gap with us?

Ezekiel 22:30

“I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.”  

Related articles

  1. Robert Saylor’s death is not about lack of Down syndrome awareness. (kimchilatkes.com)

  2. Death of Md. Man With Down Syndrome Has Attention of Justice Department (washington.cbslocal.com)

  3. Robert Ethan Saylor: Autopsy shows Saylor had heart condition (wjla.com)

  4. Robert  Ethan Saylor: No charges to be filed in Saylor’s death

Robert  Saylor death ruled a homicide

Robert  Saylor dies after being handcuffed at Frederick movie theater