He Deserved to Die: He Had the Temerity to Be Born with Down Syndrome

When a young man with Down syndrome is held down by 3 off duty police officers inside a movie theatre over his refusal to purchase a second ticket and he dies because of their actions, what does this say?

When the largest national organization for Down syndrome meets with the Department of Justice and comes out of it with murmurs of peaceful songs playing in the background along with promises of police training – but without any pressure whatsoever on the Department to push for an independent investigation of the homicide of the young man – what does it say?

When the mainstream media points a finger at Down syndrome itself as the root cause of this young man’s death, when his heart problems, refusal to comply with the officers are blamed for his death as something he brought upon himself, what does it say?

It says Robert Ethan Saylor deserved to die.

He had Down syndrome. He was less than others with the typical chromosomal count. He resisted the cops, he had a heart condition, he was overweight, he brought those three officers upon himself and he deserved the fact that they held him down as he called out for his mother then suffocated to death.

It says that the National Down Syndrome Society is willing to turn a blind eye to the injustice of his homicide, to lie still in a pursuit for justice and truth. That they will turn a deaf ear to the voice of the community, clamoring by the thousands in the change.org petition for an independent investigation.

It says that our society values so little the worth of a life that is different that it will not hold its death accountable.

If Robert Ethan Saylor was Trayvon Martin, he would have been held down and suffocated because he was a young black man, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt. The black sweatshirt would be the focal point, the reason and cause behind his death.

The world looked at that case and did not let it go.

Let’s not let this go: let’s grab this investigation and shake the truth out of it.

Promises of future training for police officers are not enough.

A young man died here.

Please:

  • Sign the change.org petition calling for an independent investigation
  • Write the NDSS at info@ndss.org or visit the NDSS facebook page and share your disappointment in their lack of response
  • Spread the word: write your own blog posts, post the change.org link online, tell others about what is going on.

Demand justice for this man whose only real crime, it seems, was that he had the temerity to be born with Down syndrome

 

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More that you can do:

 

Did you sign that change.org petition?

 

https://www.change.org/petitions/justice-for-robert-saylor

 

Then:

 

You can call the U.S. Department of Justice- (202) 307-5138

 

This is important as they have stated that “there are no concrete action steps at this time. It’s a little bit early for us. We’re trying to assess the situation and see how much community tension there is.”

 

So let’s make some tension, community. Call!

 

****

 

You can use these form letters to send to the appropriate parties:

 

To the U.S. Department of Justice –

 

AskDOJ@usdoj.gov

 

or by mail sent to

 

U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

 

According to a press release from  the State’s Attorney for Frederick county, Robert Ethan Saylor died as a  result of three individuals’ actions on January 12, 2013 in Frederick,  Maryland. His death was and remains classified a HOMICIDE.

 

Robert Ethan Saylor was a healthy, 26-year-old man, who also had Down syndrome.

 

However, the above press release also states that Robert Ethan Saylor  was “…compromised by his Down’s syndrome…” and concludes that no  criminal charges are necessary in Mr. Saylor’s death.

 

I believe  that the above decision speaks to a continuing bias in society to see  Down syndrome as a disease, those with Down syndrome as lesser humans  and not deserving of the same respect warranted to those without Down  syndrome. I strongly believe, and do not stand alone, that it is a  violation of basic human rights to view Mr. Saylor’s death as somehow  due to his genetic makeup when his death has been classified a HOMICIDE.

 

I’m contacting you today to ask you to launch an independent inquiry  into the death of Mr. Saylor. I am asking you to prove to me that your  department believes in the humanity and equality of everyone, including  those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

 

Respectfully,
[your name]

 

To the Attorney General of Maryland –

 

According to a press release from the State’s Attorney for Frederick county, Robert Ethan Saylor died as a result of three individuals’ actions on January 12, 2013 in Frederick, Maryland. His death was and remains classified a HOMICIDE.

 

Robert Ethan Saylor was a healthy, 26-year-old man, who also had Down syndrome.
However, the above press release also states that Robert Ethan Saylor was “…compromised by his Down’s syndrome…” and concludes that no criminal charges are necessary in Mr. Saylor’s death.

 

I believe that the above decision speaks to a continuing bias in society to see Down syndrome as a disease, those with Down syndrome as lesser humans, and not deserving of the same respect warranted to those without Down syndrome. I strongly believe, and do not stand alone, that it is a violation of basic human rights to view Mr. Saylor’s death as somehow due to his genetic makeup when  his death has been classified a HOMICIDE.

 

I’m contacting you today to ask you to launch an independent inquiry into the death of Mr. Saylor. I am asking you to prove to me that your office believes in the humanity and equality of everyone, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

 

Respectfully,
[your name]

 

And again, the change.org petition:

https://www.change.org/petitions/justice-for-robert-saylor

Meriah
is a deaf blogger, global nomad, tech-junkie, cat-lover, Trekkie, Celto-Teutonic-peasant-handed mom of 3 (one with Down syndrome and one gifted 2E).
She likes her coffee black and hot.
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20 Comments

  • Ok, I just read that post on the NDSS FB page and it sort of made my blood boil. Really, police training. Why does no one see that they already had all the training they needed?! They chose not to follow it, because Robert Saylor looked the way he did, and Robert died.

  • Spot on, mama bear! As I suspected the NDSS is sitting on this. Unwilling to ruffle feathers and just says a little “fluff” to placate all of us who advocate those with Ds. At least the NDSC asked for justice and laid out all the ways Robert Ethan’s rights were violated in bullet point.

    This is ridiculous! If I read one more new article on how he was obese, had a heart problem, or had anger problems (seriously, how can you tell he had anger issues by an autopsy anyway?). . . really? So he cursed and kicked at 3 un-uniformed police officers. Big whoop. Most of us would be doing the same. The cause of his death is suffocation due to brutal police force of 3 police officers over a freaking movie ticket. It isn’t over yet. WE will be heard.

  • I’m sick of carrying this ache in the pit of my stomach.Im sick to death from feeling like the world outside this community doesn’t see the injustice.Im sick of crying thinking how his Mother was almost to him but yet he died.For what??$12 and simple lack of compassion towards another human being.Im sick of feeling helpless to make the world hear my screams NOT MY SON!NOT YOUR CHILD!HES DEAD WHY?????
    These “organizations” have failed at advocating for our kids.I will never walk,raise $1 or wear some stupid piece of clothing in the name of awareness after they left him to be blamed for simply existing.

  • This is what happens when society says that it is OK to screen these people out of our population. Society has already decided their lives are of less value. It’s just an extension of the same underlying attitude, we are trapped in this cycle.

  • Hi All,

    Little Bird’s Dad made me aware of the Ethan Saylor death.

    As the dad to a beautiful 6 year old son blessed by Downs, I am furious.

    As a police officer for over 2 decades and a city Chief of Police, I am furious.

    I also serve on the Research Advisory Committee for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. I now know why God led me to serve on this committee. It is to carry this effort & create a substantial officer awareness training (which there is NONE) for addressing our kids with DS.

    LBD & I will need your help, your experience and mostly your PASSION to ignite this fire for change. My contact is brightblueline@gmail.com & http://supermaxhero.com.

    God bless & stay furious and focused.
    Scott

  • Justice is badly needed here – I feel so bad for what his family must be going through. The NDSS response was really really disappointing – I expected more from them.

  • This is horrific. The Saylor family deserves the investigation, the public deserves an independent investigation. It is mind-boggling that there hasn’t yet been one.

    It is tragic that it would take the death of this man for police departments to wake up to the need for training how they treat people with intellectual disabilities, whether they have DS or other special needs.

  • I cannot get passed the fact that he was calling out for his Mom…can’t even imagine the horror he and his parents must have felt. Makes me sick…we need to do something about this. As a parent of a child with Down Syndrome and Autism, I could be faced with such a scenerio. We cannot allow this to happen again..or be swept aside, because it was “his” fault. Our kids deserve better.

  • The fact of the situation is that my brother did not die of a heart condition. He died when his larynx was crushed and blood filled his lungs. Anyway you twist it, this is not a complication of Down Syndrome. Thank you all for your support and willingness to speak for those who can’t.

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