In Remembrance of Ethan Saylor: Take a Moment to Save A Life

Ethan Saylor’s death is NOT going away… and it shouldn’t!!!

Thursday is a Facebook Show-of-Solidarity event in honor of Ethan Saylor, the 26-year-old young man who died of positional asphyxiation on January 12 when shopping mall security guards (moonlighting police officers) placed him face down on the floor of a movie theatre, handcuffed him with his hands behind his back and left him in that position where he went into cardiac arrest and died. THAT is the pertinent information.

The FACT that Ethan had Down syndrome doesn’t change the FACT that the officers are supposed to move a handcuffed prisoner out of the prone position IMMEDIATELY after handcuffing TO AVOID POSITIONAL ASPHYXIATION — STANDARD POLICE OPERATING PROCEDURE!

The FACT that Ethan was overweight or that he had a heart condition (like so many other people) doesn’t change the FACT that the officers are supposed to move a handcuffed prisoner out of the prone position IMMEDIATELY after handcuffing TO AVOID POSITIONAL ASPHYXIATION — STANDARD POLICE OPERATING PROCEDURE!

The FACT that Ethan didn’t like to be touched and resisted the SECURITY GUARDS physical effort to get him to go against the instructions his aide gave him to stay put until she returned doesn’t change the FACT that the officers are supposed to move a handcuffed prisoner out of the prone position IMMEDIATELY after handcuffing TO AVOID POSITIONAL ASPHYXIATION — STANDARD POLICE OPERATING PROCEDURE!

Perhaps — And I said PERHAPS — the officers security guards followed standard police procedure to arrest someone who was resisting arrest by placing the perpetrator face down and handcuffing them but they FAILED to complete the procedure to move the handcuffed “prisoner” out of the prone position IMMEDIATELY TO AVOID POSITIONAL ASPHYXIATION — STANDARD POLICE OPERATING PROCEDURE!

Never mind that referring to Ethan as a “perpetrator” sounds and IS bizarre when he simply wanted to watch a movie again AND was told by his aide to stay put.

Never mind that referring to Ethan as a “prisoner” sounds and IS bizarre considering his CRIME was to stay put as he was told by his aide AND reacting to being touched when the SECURITY GUARDS (I keep capping that because they sure as hell weren’t acting as trained peacekeeping officers of the law that fateful day) escalated what was a peaceful situation to physical force.

HOW ABOUT QUESTIONING THIS:

When did these security guards employ ANY police training — or BASIC COMMON SENSE for that matter — in identifying a person with special needs that perhaps warranted special handling?

WHEN did these SECURITY GUARDS employ ANY POLICE TRAINING — or BASIC COMMON SENSE for that matter — to prevent this peaceful disagreement from escalating to physical violence?

Never mind that they CREATED the violent response.

Never mind that they disregarded the special needs.

Never mind that they did NOT examine the situation and get the story from all parties involved before taking action. Instead they took the word of the theatre employee (did that have anything to do with who pays their moonlighting paycheck?). They didn’t take the time to understand the situation from Ethan’s point of view, from Ethan’s aide, or from witnesses to the disagreement before they took action. They did what they were told to do by the theatre employee: remove Ethan from the theatre. Sounds like poor police judgement/action along with a possible conflict of interest. That is, they acted as mall security and followed the instructions of the theatre employee versus following STANDARD POLICE PROCEDURE.

Did they really attempt to get Ethan’s side of the story? Had they done so,  they surely would have determined that Ethan was upset and did not fully understand the situation… Which would have lead to talking to Ethan’s aide WHO WAS PRESENT BUT DISREGARDED! Which would have lead to waiting a few minutes for Ethan’s mother to arrive.

But that’s not what happened!

INSTEAD, they chose to ESCALATE TO PHYSICAL FORCE.

Ethan’s weight has NO BEARING on the actions taken by those SECURITY GUARDS! How much he weighs doesn’t translate to USE PHYSICAL FORCE without understanding the situation first!

Ethan’s heart condition DOESN’T CHANGE the incomplete implementation of STANDARD POLICE PROCEDURE in this situation!

Clearly, those three men were acting as paid SECURITY GUARDS NOT trained peacekeeping police officers! They employed poor police judgement and took unreasonable police action when they escalated to physical force without fully understanding the situation AND when they IGNORED the 2nd half of the police restraint procedure which is to REPOSITION PRISONER IMMEDIATELY TO AVOID POSITIONAL ASPHYXIATION!

In the LEAST, there should be an independent investigation to look honestly at the actions taken by these police officers… Versus the Frederick, MD police force conducting a self-investigation and decided their officers acted appropriately and it was the Down syndrome that killed Ethan Saylor.

Last time I checked, Down syndrome isn’t fatal. And I should know because I have two children with Down syndrome (identical twin boys)

Seriously, the FACT that Ethan Saylor had Down syndrome — and any factors that may or may not accompany that diagnosis, like being overweight (along with half the country) or having a heart condition (not exclusive to folks with DS) — does NOT CHANGE the inappropriate actions of the three officers who did not gather all the facts, did not keep the peace but rather escalated the situation to physical force by their actions, and did not PROPERLY employ standard police practice (reposition after handcuffing), all of which caused the death of Ethan Saylor.

If you agree that there are at least SOME outstanding questions regarding the way these moonlighting police officer/security guards handled the situation then please consider signing this petition asking for an independent investigation into this horrible tragedy… I say please because I don’t want to anything like this to happen to My Boys or anyone elses’ children with or without Down syndrome.

In addition, tomorrow there is a Facebook Show-of-Solidarity on Down Syndrome Uprising in remembrance of Ethan Saylor.

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About Maggie

I'm a stay-at-home mother of 3 children including a 15-year-old daughter, the Old Soul, and 11-year-old identical twin boys who've been blessed with an extra 21st chromosome (aka: Down Syndrome). I happily spend my time doing all that I can do -- breaking the proverbial box wide open -- to foster my children's development and then sharing what I learn with you through this blog.
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