Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Death by Misunderstanding

Ethan Saylor
I try and keep politics and things not related to movies out of my blog. This one is movie related so I felt I needed to do something more than just click on a link. I am posting this not to denigrate the police but to highlight a problem that gets overlooked. Ethan went to a movie and liked it so much he went back into the theater and sat down to see it again. Ethan died because of a misunderstanding. Ethan's Aid worker warned the Police that physical contact would exacerbate the situation.

I will let you read the letter I received I have a few more points to make at the end. Please feel free to add your name to the petition to make this issue something that people will pay attention to.

My big brother Ethan, who had Down syndrome, was killed by three police officers earlier this year. His crime? Not buying a $12 movie ticket. And now the police officers who killed my brother are getting off with no consequences.

On January 12, 2013, my brother Ethan went to the movies. When the movie was over, he returned to his seat to see it again. Three police officers told Ethan he had to leave, but Ethan didn't understand why. He got frustrated and afraid when the officers told him he was going to jail. His aide came into the theater and told the officers that they should not touch Ethan because it would only make him more upset. He needed time to process their request.
But the officers didn't listen. Witnesses say they threw Ethan to the ground and piled on top of him. Seconds later, Ethan couldn't breathe, and eventually died. The coroner ruled that his death was homicide by asphyxiation.

My family waited six months for the truth about what happened that night, but the officers' own department investigated and decided they deserve no punishment at all.
I started a petition on calling on the governor and attorney general of Maryland to launch a criminal investigation into the officers who killed my brother. Will you click here to sign?

Part of the problem is that police officers in Maryland aren't trained in how to deal with developmentally disabled people like my brother. I think training is an important next step in making sure that what happens to my brother never happens to anyone else. But I also want the officers who killed Ethan to be investigated for his death.

I am still in shock about what happened to my brother. I am shocked that when I go home, he isn't there. I am shocked that these police officers let a dispute over a stupid movie ticket escalate to a point where my brother died, rather than choosing a passive approach. I am shocked that the investigation was blatantly biased and the police department continues to claim the officers did nothing wrong... like my brother's life didn't matter.

I am sick of being shocked. I want to do something. I want my governor and attorney general to get justice for my brother, to find out what really happened and to implement training protocols so that no other family will ever have to experience the pain my family feels. We miss Ethan every day. He didn't deserve this. And no one else does, either.

Please sign my petition calling on Maryland's governor and attorney general to launch a criminal investigation into the officers who killed my brother.

Thank you,
Emma Saylor
Mount Airy, MD

When I was in high school my theater group did some work with mentally challenged kids and My mother worked as a house mother for adults who were working in the community and staying at a home that was giving them controlled independence. I have learned a lot in my experiences with this community and the one thing you can't assume is our level of understanding and communication is going to be received as you intend it.

This is a small situation that is made incredibly tragic by several escalating events.  The Movie theater manager who insisted his removal could have seen this was not a normal situation and perhaps let him stay. The care giver could have paid for another round and asked for rembersment from his parents. The police could have invited him out with promise of candy or a soda so they could talk. Many things lead to this tragedy that could have been avoided.

But we cant avoid is that all of us need to readjust our thinking when it comes to mental problems in this country.


No comments:

Post a Comment