FREDERICK, Md. (WJZ) — The death of a Frederick County man with Down syndrome may be destined to change the way law enforcement handles encounters with the developmentally disabled.
Political reporter Pat Warren has more on a bill to expand training.
Patti Saylor tells lawmakers about her son Ethan and how he died at the hands of off-duty Frederick County deputies in a confrontation in a movie theater.
Warren: “How do you feel today?”
Saylor: “I’m a bit nervous. We’ve done a lot of work to get here.”
Work that started in 2013 when 26-year-old Ethan Saylor, a young man with Down syndrome, refused to leave the theater, insisting on watching the movie for a second time.
He was asphyxiated when deputies tried to forcibly remove him.
The public outcry resulted in a commission recommendation for training that should include people who have disabilities themselves.
“Law enforcement has been doing some training this year since Ethan’s death, and they’re telling us that his profound impact is having the folks with disabilities in the training with them,” Patti Saylor said.
A bill under consideration creates the Ethan Saylor Center to facilitate that training and perhaps prevent future tragedies.
“This cannot happen to another family. My son did not deserve to die on the floor of a movie theater calling my name, saying ‘I don’t want to go to jail, I want my mom’ because he didn’t understand or he was not understood. This cannot happen again,” Patti Saylor said.
Patti Saylor won’t rest until change happens.
The National Down Syndrome Society proposes to locate the center in a Maryland university and serve as a model for other states.
Saylor’s death was ruled a homicide, but no charges were brought against the deputies.