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Thread: The Wrong Side of the Law

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    Distinguished Community Member Earth Mother 2 Angels's Avatar
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    Thumbs down The Wrong Side of the Law

    Imagine for a moment that you are Patti Saylor.

    It's January 12, 2013. The phone rings, and a voice says, "Your son is dead."

    In the moments following that horrid news, the details may have unfolded as to the cause of the death of her 26 year old son, Robert.

    Robert, who had Down Syndrome, and an aide, attended a showing of the film, "Zero Dark Thirty" at a theater in Frederick, Maryland. When the movie concluded, Robert reportedly did not want to leave the theater.

    A theater employee called the security guards, who are off duty sheriff's deputies, requesting assistance in the removal of Robert from the theater.

    According to "authorities," Robert began cursing at the officers, who then arrested and handcuffed Robert, and physically removed him from the theater. While in custody, authorities state that Robert was "resisting arrest," and, for that reason, the deputies forcibly pushed Robert to the ground, face down.

    Robert died of "positional asphyxiation." He suffocated, while three deputies restrained him.

    The Medical Examiner ruled Robert's death a homicide. After a public outcry, the three deputies, who were still working in the Sheriff's department, were placed on administrative leave, with pay. The county State Attorney hasn't decided whether to file charges. The Sheriff's department is conducting an internal investigation.

    Here is how Patti described her beloved son: "He just loved unconditionally everybody. He has never had anyone put their hands on him in his life. He would not have been doing anything threatening to anybody."

    Tragically, there are too many Mothers in the U.S., who don't have to imagine being Patti. They are Patti Saylor. Their children, who have a mental illness or a neurological impairment or a disabling condition, have died at the hands of law enforcement officers. We would all probably be astonished at how many Patti's are among us. I would suspect that this statistic would be under-reported for a variety of reasons.

    But, when you have a keen interest in the treatment of persons with disabilities, you follow these stories, like I do. And through the years, there have been far too many of them. In some cases, such as Robert, the victim dies, in other cases, the victim is harassed and humiliated, or falsely arrested.

    Robert Saylor died, because he didn't want to leave the theater. We don't know why he didn't want to leave the theater. Perhaps his care taker had instructed him to stay in his seat, while the care taker went to get the car. Perhaps he wanted to watch the movie again. Perhaps the movie frightened him, and he was afraid to go outside.

    And his fears must have been justified, when the deputies arrived to drag him out, handcuffed, and threw him to the ground, likely kneed his neck or back, and he died. Suddenly, the violent movie he had just watched became his final reality.

    Robert Saylor died, because he allegedly cursed at the officers. Most likely, he heard cursing in the film, and the possibility that he was revved up by the movie may have prompted his outbursts, if, in fact, he did curse.

    He wasn't wielding a gun or knife. He wasn't holding anyone hostage. He hadn't just robbed the theater or stolen a car. He wasn't a wanted criminal or felon.

    Did Robert Saylor die because the three officers over-reacted, or failed to recognize his disabling condition, or weren't properly trained in how to handle an individual with special needs?

    How can we prevent more police-inflicted deaths, like Robert's, and Kelly Thomas, a young man, who had schizophrenia and lived on the streets in California? As a community, as voters, as parents and advocates, how do we change this scenario?

    Robert Saylor's death is unacceptable. As a society, we must all embrace that truth. What do we do to prevent this from occurring again?

    Imagine that you are Patti Saylor. What would you do?

    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/201...eputies-office

    http://www.wjla.com/articles/2013/02...tor-85454.html

    http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2013/0...me-sons-death/

    Photo of Patti and Robert:

    http://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphoto...59602271_n.jpg

    Please join me in prayer for Patti Saylor and for every other Patti, who is coping with the death of her child with misunderstood disabilities, while in the custody of law enforcement officers.

    Let's work together to find a way to stop this from happening. So there will be no more Patti Saylors.

    Love & Light,

    Rose
    Mom to Jon, 48, (seizure disorder; Gtube; trache; colostomy; osteoporosis; hypothyroid; enlarged prostate; lymphedema, assorted mysteries) and Michael, 32, (intractable seizures; Gtube), who were born with an undiagnosed progressive neuromuscular disease and courageous spirits. Our Angel Michael received his wings in 2003 and now resides in Heaven. Our Angel Jon lives at home with me and Jim, the world's most wonderful dad.

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    Thank you Rose for spreading this story and opening everyones eyes to a problem that has been around for a long time. This is an aweful story and no parent should go through this. I can see things my daughter does being misunderstood by anyone who does not know her. She has a lot of quirks(fears and behavior that she will not alter) and is a rule follower so if she was told not to leave the seat she would NOT leave the seat, or if she didn't feel comfortable she would not move without someone she trusts helping her. We only hear a few of the most tragic stories but this happens all the time on different levels. from verbal abuse to murder(yes I believe it's murder). This is one reason to this day I will not put Kathleen on a school bus, I transport her to school. Every year there are stories of some sort of abuse by aids or bus drivers. These individuals are not at all trained to handle issues that arise with children with dissabilities. Yes there's a background check but there are no requirments for training to be a bus aid or driver on how to deal with a person with dissabilities. A local boy was killed by 2 aids on a van who wrongly restained him and then drove around for 90 minutes after he had stopped breathing. This should never happen. I read the book House Rules it was a huge eyeopener as to how someone with no trianing in the area can confuse a situation or conversation. There should be guidlines in place for this not just children with dissabilities but also adults.
    Mary Grace
    Last edited by mg12061; 03-02-2013 at 05:06 AM.

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    Distinguished Community Member Earth Mother 2 Angels's Avatar
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    ((((((Mary))))))

    Our bus drivers and aides are trained in CPR and proper restraint/response to a student with any kind of problem. Seizure: pull over, call in, tend to student. Behavior issue: Pull over, call in, tend to student. Help is usually sent via highway patrol or police or another bus driver/supervisor, or paramedics. And every bus should have at least one trained aide on board, because a bus driver has to keep eyes on the road, and watching the students in the mirror isn't enough.

    My husband was Michael's school bus driver (that's how we met) and transportation safety was one of my hot issues during my sons' public school days.

    Has anything changed since the incident with the local boy who died on the bus? What happened to the two aides? Were they held accountable for his death or their actions in any way? Has training been instituted for drivers and aides to prevent this from occurring?

    We're talking about people in whom we entrust the care of our precious children. And we have a right to expect that a bus driver and an aide are capable of managing any crisis that might occur. But we may be asking too much of those individuals. Jim knew how to follow protocol, but until he met me, he didn't have a concept of medical conditions or issues. What are the qualifications to drive a bus? Passing a driving test. To drive a bus for special needs kids? CPR training and learning a protocol.

    What are the qualifications to be a law enforcement officer? Fairly extensive in most places. And that should include the ability to recognize a person with a neurological impairment and to accommodate that individual based upon that impairment.

    Among the cases of persons with disabilities, which I've followed through the years, who were the victims of law enforcement over-reaction (a term I use to avoid the ones I want to use), none of them did anything to provoke the situation into which the officers placed them.

    In 2011, Gilberto Powell was beaten by Miami-Dade police. Gilberto also has Down Syndrome, and the officers said they were suspicious of a "bulge" under his shirt. It was his colostomy bag, which they ripped off of his body. All of this occurred as he stood in front of his own home.

    http://miami.cbslocal.com/2011/09/14...ial-needs-man/

    People are outraged in Robert Saylor's case. The Frederick Sheriff's department has a Facebook page, which is public. The comments on that page are astonishing in demands for justice for Robert.

    But the wheels of justice turn painfully slowly for the disenfranchised among us. And we are placated with platitudes and weak apologies by the authorities, who are internally investigating.

    We need to have a response to this as advocates and citizens.

    We need to demand external and objective investigations of law enforcement-involved offenses against persons with disabling conditions.

    We need to demand training of law enforcement officers in the aspects of assorted neurological conditions, so that they can recognize the difference between a drunk and a person with CP. Or a drug addict and a person with schizophrenia. Or what a seizure is. That training should include us, so that we can describe to them our children, because unless you have lived with a person, who has a particular condition, you cannot be considered an authority on that condition.

    Change is needed. I think it might be up to us to make it happen.

    Love & Light,

    Rose
    Mom to Jon, 48, (seizure disorder; Gtube; trache; colostomy; osteoporosis; hypothyroid; enlarged prostate; lymphedema, assorted mysteries) and Michael, 32, (intractable seizures; Gtube), who were born with an undiagnosed progressive neuromuscular disease and courageous spirits. Our Angel Michael received his wings in 2003 and now resides in Heaven. Our Angel Jon lives at home with me and Jim, the world's most wonderful dad.

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    Thanks Rose, Yes the worker was cinvicted of second degree manslaughter. The family also faught and got a law passed called Jonathn's Law.
    Here's a couple of links to the story and the law that was passed. I believe that just recently there was an amendment to the law allowing families to share the information they recieve under the law.
    http://www.nysenate.gov/news/new-yor...%E2%80%99s-law

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/06/ny...anted=all&_r=0

    Not sure if they're the best sites but it gives you an idea of what happened.
    My worry for Kathleen is she would ride a reg school bus to school possibley with an aid (or a small bus) either way I don't know what if any trianing these individuals get, the problem is, who will enforce it and ensure that protocal and proper care is taken in dealing with the child with a dissability. They may have CPR trianing. Even those who are trianed don't follow protocol or care enough to take the time and patients. You can't teach that. A law is only affective it's enforced. As you can see there were guidlines and training in place but no one was taking charge and enforcing these in Jonathan's case. One of my biggest goals for Kathleen is self advocacy. I totaly agree that there could be so many changes made in the system. Unfortunatly it seems to take a tradgedy to bring about change. We can make all the changes in the world but what really needs to change is our children need to be respected, and they need people to care enough to take the time to understand, this can't be demanded or taught. But we can advocate for the inclusion (something I've been very passionate about since Kathleen was born) in society so they are seen for the wonderful people they are and as a person not a dissability. I've kept Kathleen as included as possible and her peers really do care about her and her well being. They have advocated for her, given her incentive, and helped her when needed. Does this make sense? I feel like I'm rambling... But, We need to teach the children growing up not to fear a dissability but to embrace what they have to give. not to get too wordy here but when Kathleen was in about 3rd grade she was in PE class with her peers. She had to crawl under a net (she has no use of her left hand and very weak left leg). So as you can imagine it took her a long time. Some children in live were getting inpatient and making comments aobut how long she was taking. A young boy who had been in her class for a couple years walked over to them and told then to try and do it wiht just one arm and leg. The PE teacher heard this and made the rest of the kids try it that way. I'll never forget how htis young boy sttod up for her.
    By the way Rose thank you for always giving me a different perspective on things and looking for facts. I tend to look at everything with my emotions. I always appreciate your knowledge and understanding
    Mary Grace
    Last edited by mg12061; 03-02-2013 at 05:10 AM.

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    Ohhhh this is just awful. How utterly, devastatingly futile and tragic. You are right to rail against this terrible kind of injustice towards our children with disabilities, Rose. We must raise our voices and call for an end to terrible injustices like this one. I'm going to think about writing a magazine article on this subject. I'm in the middle of one on treatment choices with another waiting on the topic of self-advocacy. But I want to write about this. I'll let you know when I'm ready to research and I'll be in touch. xoLove Donna
    Donna, Mum to Natalie (22), ablebodied, kind and beautiful and Nicholas(26), severe CP, non-verbal, tube fed, multiple surgeries, chronic pain, happy kid except when the Liverpool football club or the Ottawa Senators Hockey Team are losing!
    Check out my blog: http://www.donnathomson.com


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    Just...Yikes! What a sad unfortunate death. Among many things I think it was due to improper handling from the cops not being trained. I don't know much about Down Syndrome but I heard once that their airways function slightly differently because of the syndrome's facial features. I think the front Palate is shorter or something like that. He probably couldn't get air in that position and they didn't realize it.
    Last edited by funnylegs4; 03-08-2013 at 06:49 PM.
    Mild Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy and bad proprioception.
    My website for my original short films! http://cripvideoproductions.com/cripsnotcreeps.php

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    ((((((Mary & Donna))))))

    I wrote responses to you some time ago, but didn't have the opportunity to copy and paste them onto here, before we changed computers. We are still working on transferring stuff from our old computer to the new one. I couldn't possibly re-create those responses, so I'll just wait until I can obtain the ones I wrote on the old computer.

    ((((((Funnylegs4))))))

    Regardless of any anatomical anomalies Robert Saylor might have had, the deputies had no cause to handcuff Robert, let alone wrestle him to the floor, let alone place their full body weight on his back or neck with their knees. Robert had not committed a crime, he was unarmed, and he was not a wanted felon.

    I think it is reasonable for us, as citizens, to expect our law enforcement officials to respond appropriately to every situation, which they confront. These deputies over-reacted to the situation, and they were oblivious to Robert's disabling condition. And this is happening far too often in this country, and not only to persons with disabilities.

    My grandfather was a police Lieutenant, my uncle was a Detective Sgt., my cousin is a Captain and was an interim Chief of Police.

    I know how it once was, and how it should be, and how it isn't anymore. From Florida to California, and all points in between, things need to change in law enforcement.

    It's up to us to make that happen.

    Love & Light,

    Rose
    Mom to Jon, 48, (seizure disorder; Gtube; trache; colostomy; osteoporosis; hypothyroid; enlarged prostate; lymphedema, assorted mysteries) and Michael, 32, (intractable seizures; Gtube), who were born with an undiagnosed progressive neuromuscular disease and courageous spirits. Our Angel Michael received his wings in 2003 and now resides in Heaven. Our Angel Jon lives at home with me and Jim, the world's most wonderful dad.

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