***Read the Maryland Commission for Effective Community Inclusion of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities here.***

Grand jury rejects criminal charges in police murder of Robert Saylor, man with Down syndrome killed at movie theater in JanuaryMarch 26, 2013 Less than five miles from the theater where a man with Down syndrome died at the hands of the law enforcement officials he idolized, a grand jury on Friday heard the details of the case and decided that no crime had been committed. “They felt no further investigation was necessary,” Frederick County State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith said at a news conference outside the county’s courthouse. Grand jury proceedings are secretive in Maryland, but Smith said that his office presented the jury with 17 witness statements and that three deputies involved in the death undefined Lt. Scott Jewell, Sgt. Rich Rochford and Deputy First Class James Harris undefined all testified. An attorney for the parents of Robert Ethan Saylor, who died at the age of 26, described their reaction as “extremely disappointed and saddened and concerned.” “This is a really hard day for them,” attorney Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum said. “They’re going to have to digest this unsettling news and determine their next step.” Nationally, the case has drawn wide attention from parents of children with Down syndrome and advocacy groups. More than 1,000 angry messages also fill the Facebook page of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office. Saylor was known for his hugs and was so fascinated with the police that he would sometimes call 911 just to ask a question. In January, he and an aide watched “Zero Dark Thirty” at a Frederick movie theater. As soon as it ended, Saylor wanted to watch it again and would not leave the theater. Officials say this is what happened next: The aide, an 18-year-old woman, was getting the car when a theater employee called the three off-duty officers, who were working security at the Westview Promenade shopping center, and told them that Saylor needed to buy another ticket or leave. Smith, who would not go into great detail about the investigation, said that when the deputies confronted Saylor, he verbally and physically resisted their attempts to remove him. He said they restrained him using three sets of handcuffs because of his large size. Smith said that when the deputies placed Smith on his stomach, it was for “one to two minutes” and that once Saylor began showing signs of distress, the deputies removed the handcuffs, called for help and administered CPR. Krevor-Weisbaum said that a witness heard Saylor cry out for his mother, who even though he didn’t know it, wasn’t far away. Alerted by someone to what was happening, Patti Saylor was on her way to the theater and was almost there, Krevor-Weisbaum said. In February, the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Baltimore ruled Saylor’s death a homicide as a result of asphyxia. On Friday, Smith said that the report indicated that Down syndrome and obesity made Saylor more susceptible to breathing problems. Krevor-Weisbaum said that Saylor had no ongoing health problems. She added that his parents had not seen the autopsy report, although they have requested it, along with all the files from the investigation. She said the family has been concerned that the investigation was handled by the same sheriff’s office that employs the deputies. Since February, the deputies have been on paid administrative leave. An attorney for them said Friday that they welcomed the chance to testify and did so voluntarily. “They’ve stood by patiently waiting for this day to come,” attorney Patrick J. McAndrew said. “This was an unfortunate set of circumstances. Each of these professionals, devoted law enforcement officers, did what was necessary under the circumstances, and they did what their training dictated that they do.” SourcePhoto courtesy of Emma Saylor In other news about cops getting away with murder, no charges were brought against Officer Nick Bennallack who killed Manuel Diaz in Anaheim last summer because shooting an unarmed man was found to have been “reasonable & justified”.

Justice for Ethan

We are all deeply saddened by the loss of Ethan and the circumstances by which it occurred. And we want you to know that, in conjunction with other organizations, we are working toward getting to the bottom of this and preventing another tragedy such as this.

Below is the joint statement issued by IMDSA, Global Down Syndrome Association, International Down Syndrome Coalition, National Down Syndrome Congress and National Down Syndrome Society.

We thank you for your support.

Joint Statement Regarding the Robert Ethan Saylor Case

Global Down Syndrome Foundation (Global), International Down Syndrome Coalition (IDSC), International Mosaic Down Syndrome Association (IMDSA), National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) and National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) continue to share deep sadness over the tragic and preventable death of Robert Ethan Saylor.

Each organization is addressing this situation in a manner keeping with their particular mission and all the organizations have been in close communication regarding various initiatives. We are all united in condemning this tragic death and are committed to working together to uphold the human and civil rights of people with Down syndrome and their families.

NDSC and NDSS have taken the lead in this case and have met with the local Frederick County affiliate, members of the Saylor family, and the U.S. Department of Justice. Those interactions are ongoing and seek to support the Saylor family, while preserving all options available to them, and, at the same time, to prevent tragedies like Ethan’s death from occurring in the future. Later this month, following another round of meetings with the Department of Justice and the family, NDSS and NDSC will present a joint “town hall” teleconference to share more information regarding initiatives and proposals to prevent this from occurring in the future.

We hear you. We are listening. And we intend to work as hard as we can, together, to prevent this from ever happening again. We need to stay united as one Down syndrome community that is focused on the bigger picture and justice for Ethan.

See what we are doing and how you can help.

National Down Syndrome Congress – www.ndsccenter.org
National Down Syndrome Society – www.ndss.org
International Down Syndrome Coalition – www.theidsc.org
Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action – www.dsaia.org
Global Down Syndrome Foundation – www.globaldownsyndrome.org
International Mosaic Down Syndrome Association – www.imdsa.org

Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action, working in its role as a trade association, continues to support and respect the efforts of the other national organizations as all work diligently to address this issue.

International Mosaic Down Syndrome Association

PO Box 321, Stow, MA 01775
1-888-IMDSA-21|  Email - President, Brandy Hellard
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