Brendan and Gemma

Brendan and Gemma

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Robert "Ethan" Saylor

I do not want this young man, who died for no reason, to be overlooked because society doesn't deem him valuable.

ABC Virginia news story says when speaking of the autopsy of Ethan: "The report said Saylor had a reported medical history of anger issues, especially when confronted or touched."  This is true of most people I think. If you confront me and touch me and I do not know you or what the fuck you're up to, I am not going to respond nicely. I might just swear and resist your attempts to physically move me also. Should I be killed for that? Should you? So, does this statement indicate that Ethan was the problem, or that the approach was ineffective and unnecessarily inflammatory? 
"Saylor didn't like being touched, particularly by strangers." Yeah, neither do I, and I teach my kids that it isn't okay for strangers to touch them either. Aren't we supposed to do that? Did I miss something? If a stranger is in uniform, it doesn't automatically make them safe. I'm not going to bash priests, but I think there is a lesson there. ABSOLUTELY NOBODY should touch you in a way that makes you feel threatened or scared. 
"Police have said Saylor, ..., yelled and cursed at the deputies after they confronted him..." this indeed indicates an immediate confrontation with no attempt at conversation...he reacted .
"The deputies then handcuffed Saylor, using three sets to accommodate his girth" Shouldn't have gotten to this point, it didn't have to. 
"The autopsy found that Saylor's developmental disability, obesity, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and a heart abnormality contributed to this death."
How did his developmental disability contribute to his death? I'm truly it because he didn't have the capacity to understand who those men were or what exactly they were trying to do to him? Yes, it is a fact that approximately 50% of people with Down syndrome have heart conditions, but they mentioned that separately. It is also known that they are more likely to be overweight/ obese....also listed separately. So, other than the inability to effectively communicate with the confrontational off-duty exactly did his Down syndrome contribute to his death? African-Americans are 30% more likely to die from heart disease, as compared to non-Hispanic white men If he was African-American, would his race have been listed as a contributing factor to his death?
""One of the options they had was to simply tell the theater manager, 'We're just simply not going to deal with this.'"
I don't think this has to be the answer either, I believe there is a common ground, but it requires being patient first and foremost, and second to be respectful toward people even when they are different. Don't we teach our kids to communicate? Shouldn't we model that behavior for them? I still don't get where his aide was and what the length of time was that had passed from when she left his side initially to when he wound up dead. 
I don't think the cops did this to him on purpose. I do think that someone who is large and has an obvious intellectual disability freaks some people out. Fear is never a good launch point for any action unless it's for immediate self defense. There's a lot of holes in the story, a lot I don't understand. What I do understand is that a mom lost her son over a 12 dollar movie ticket. 3 police men, an aide and a movie theater employee have had their lives turned upside down over a 12 dollar movie ticket. I don't feel bad for them...but I simply wonder if they see the situation differently now that it's happened (I hope so). Perhaps they'll be willing to offer suggestions for better training and more effective approach methods. Robert Ethan Saylor could be anyone's child. Many autistic people do not have the distinguishing facial features of people with Down syndrome. People with paranoid schizophrenia also do not have distinguishing facial features. Alzheimer's/ dementia...would they have done this to an old lady? These are conditions in which people are more likely to become confused and aggressive if someone puts their hands on them and tells them they have to do something in a loud and demanding voice. (Although, I still think that is just a typical human response.) Do we want to escalate minor situations by charging in forcefully? 
I can only hope some sort of learning comes out of this...I can't stomach the thought of him dying over a lousy movie ticket price.

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