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Please pass this around. Make people aware. This should not happen, EVER.

A young man with Down’s syndrome in Maryland wanted to sit through another showing of a movie.  Rather than either asking him to leave, or leaving him alone (seriously, he sits through another showing, what happens?  It’s likely his companion would have gotten him out of there, anyway), the theater calls in some security guards who happen to be off-duty police officers (working for extra scratch?  the point is, they weren’t on official duty – I have this information from a friend who lives near there, but it’s not in the article linked below).

The guards took the young man to be mouthing off, knocked him down, handcuffed him, and because people with Down’s have a tendency to have breathing problems when they’re NOT upset, Robert Saylor (the young man with Down’s) asphyxiated because he was knocked around and panicked.

Know what that means?  The “security guards” killed him.  It was a homicide, not an accidental death.

The best part is that they cited being police officers as the reason they wouldn’t comment.  YOU WERE OFF-DUTY, YOU DICKS.  You’d best comment, because you killed someone OVER A MOVIE TICKET.  Eleven dollars was enough for you to gang up on someone who literally had no idea why you were angry.  I’m willing to bet that Saylor thought the ticket price was admission to the theater (like a museum), and that he could watch the movie as many times as he wanted as long as he’d paid to get in, and with the way theaters are set up, I don’t blame him for having that train of thought.

Here’s how you handle someone with a mental disability in that situation (if it’s occurring in a time-crunch like a theater break, get the hell over it and try to keep people from getting hurt, FIRST):

  1. Find someone they trust.  Saylor was with his companion/helper, so that person would have been perfect.
  2. Explain to the trusted person what the situation is, making sure that the disabled party can hear you, and that you’re not talking about them like they’re not there (or talking about them like they’re stupid – they’re people, to be respected, and trust me, they can tell when you’re talking down to them).
  3. Supervise while the trusted person explains the situation to the disabled person.
  4. If the disabled person is combative or gets violent, chances are good that they honestly don’t understand what they’re doing wrong.  Back away and let them sit and calm down.  If they have medication for asthma, and need it, let them take it…you don’t want a medical emergency along with an emotional one.
  5. Call their parent, guardian, or other person to come pick them up, while explaining to both the companion and the disabled person what you’re doing.  Keep everyone in the loop at all times.
  6. If none of the above works, LET THEM SIT AND WATCH THE MOVIE, AGAIN.  If you insist on payment, get someone to pay you afterwards.  It’s not going to kill you to be “in the red” for one ticket for a limited amount of time.
  7. Throughout all of this, for yourself and for everyone else involved, stay calm.  It does no one any good to get worked up over something like this that makes so little difference in the big scheme of things.
  8. If you absolutely must call an authority, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS call an EMT along with an officer.  You have absolutely no idea what physical maladies a person may have, and chances are always on the side of “yep” when it comes to whether a person with Down’s has a medical condition to worry about.  Also?  EMT’s are viewed as “doctors” to people with anywhere up to a high-school education, so they’re more likely to be trusted, as well.

___

Now we have what amounts to another case of pointless police brutality, all over a movie ticket.  I mean…seriously.

I know I’m hormonal right now, for several reasons.  I know I’m upset because I’m facing some rough things in the next few weeks.  I know that I may be taking this personally because of my chosen field of study.  But I’m so angry right now, I actually had to take an extra blood pressure pill after reading that article and the information from my friend in the area.

This should not happen.  This is the kind of thing that comes from not understanding something, and fearing that which you don’t understand.

Education, in all ways, is your greatest tool…it’s your best defense.

If you have a gun, that’s great, but education is what helps you use it.

If you have a car, fabulous, but education helps you drive it.

And if you encounter someone who’s different, education is what helps you deal with those differences productively.

Please, share this.  This doesn’t need to ever happen.  EVER.  Re-word it if you’d like…find more sources, link them…don’t even link to my blog if you don’t want…but share the story.

Here’s the text shared by my friend:

On January 14, 2013, a young man with Down Syndrome went with his companion to see Zero Dark Thirty at the Regal Cinema in Frederick, MD. At the end of the movie, apparently because he wanted to see it again, he refused to get out of his seat. A Regal employee, rather than allowing him to stay and dealing with the situation later with his parents and the companion, called not one, not two, but three off duty Frederick County police officers who were working security for the theater at the time.

According to published reports, when the officers/ security guards asked him to leave, he mouthed off at them and “resisted arrest”. Those of you who know my son Landon can visualize what this would look like. In response, the officers wrestled him to the ground where he asphyxiated in handcuffs. The handcuffs were removed and EMS called and according to the police news release he later died at hospital. I don’t know how that reconciles with the coroner’s finding of asphyxiation which I thought was pretty immediate.

The price of a ticket at the cinema is between $9 and $11. The additional cost to Regal of allowing him to watch the movie again was ZERO. But instead a beloved young man died on the floor of a movie theater in his neighborhood at the hands of people he was taught would protect him.

The police officers remain on duty and were allowed to invoke their rights as police officers not to provide statements even though they were not on duty or performing official duties at the time. They were security guards in police uniforms.

The county police are investigating and the story has received local news coverage.

___

As an aside, Frederick County, MD, has a horrible police force, in general, and them doing an internal investigation is, in my mind, not the best thing.  I just hope justice (actual justice – trial, impartial jury, sentencing, etc.) occurs.

 

20 comments to Please pass this around. Make people aware. This should not happen, EVER.

  • Your Worst Daymare

    back in the day, you could sit through a movie as many times as you could stand it, and i’m talking about for $.50 or less. the movie theatre has some answering for to do, as well as the so-called police.

    • I know! It’s absolutely ridiculous the way he was treated! And his companion/helper needs to be involved in the investigation, too, because he/she was NOT doing her job properly. This whole thing…it’s just…GAH. I have no more words.

  • [...] Police choke a man with Down’s to death. Over sitting in a movie theater. [...]

  • AblativeTaco

    Anyone still wondering what side the cops are on?

    • I haven’t since I was raped in early 2005 and was treated like a hysterical drama-queen.

    • Roger J

      I’d rather deal with criminals than cops. Criminals are not “here to help.” They cannot shoot your a$$ under color of law and walk away scot-free. Also, I can legally defend myself against a criminal – I can do nothing against a rogue cop, that’s most of them. Like the man said “99% of cops give the others a bad name.”

  • rickn8or

    This, NetFlix and DVDs have pretty much convinced me to stay out of theaters.

    • Yeah, I hear ya. The price is horrendous, the service isn’t great, and everyone feels like they can just chat through the whole thing like they’re in their living rooms. I’m going to see “Warm Bodies” as late at night as possible on a school night, so that I’m not inundated with stupid teenagers. This’ll be the first movie in quite a while that I’ve seen in a theater. Forrest goes a lot. I’m not sure why, but it’s just one of our differences in preference, I suppose.

  • [...] Please pass this around. Make people aware. This should not happen, EVER. [...]

  • Wow. I thought they mostly killed auties, we tending to be smartasses. Downies, now, seem to be sweety-pies, almost without exception.

    • I wasn’t aware that folks with Autism were killed due to their disability, but I can see how that would cause confusion, for sure. It’s rare that those with Down’s are violent…they really do react to the situation to try to fit in, and sometimes they won’t even go that far…they may shrink and get quiet. I really wish I knew what happened…the whole story.

  • Scott

    Yes, if you are disable or a dog and have an encounter with the police you are quite likely to die.

  • wasntme

    The cops and government are the terrorists. They are not here to help you, they are here to help themselves at your expense.

  • Squeaky, sadly this will be another one that is covered up… They will never be charged much less tried.

  • Hunter

    According to a Frederick paper, the News-Post, the death has been ruled a homicide. That article is dated Sat 23 Feb.

    • But is anyone doing anything about it?

      Baltimore attorney Joseph Espo, who is representing the family, said Saylor’s caregiver might have been able to defuse the situation, but the caregiver was outside getting her car to take Saylor home when the conflict started.

      “They could have just waited a couple of minutes for Ethan’s caregiver to return to the scene and let her deal with it,” Espo said. “He was sitting in his seat, while admittedly not having paid for another ticket, minding his own business. It was not an urgent situation that required immediate attention.”

      When the caregiver returned to the theater, she tried to intervene and de-escalate the situation but was ignored, Espo said.

      “The deputies continued doing their thing,” he said. “They didn’t disengage.”

      But the Sheriff says they will only take it to Grand Jury if they feel that they can’t solve it internally…that, to me, is a sign that they don’t want to do anything about it, really…they’re just placating. I just…yeah, I wish there was something I could do. I’m about to post a link to the obit, along with donation information, for those who want it.

  • [...] to a commenter (Hunter) – his comment here) on this post about the man with Down’s (Robert) who was killed by off-duty deputies acting [...]