Log In

Inclusion Blog Post
By Inclusion Blog Post

SHARE
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google+
Send Email


© 2019 THE INCLUSION BLOG. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
toy car in grass

Police brutality leads to death of young man with down syndrome

Robert Saylor really, really liked the movie Zero Dark Thirty.  So much so, that he refused to leave the theatre while his support worker was grabbing the car. Three off-duty Sheriff’s deputies, working as mall security, asked him to leave.

Saylor shouted and physically protested.  The deputies responded by applying 3 sets of handcuffs and placing him on his stomach for “one to two minutes.”  By the time they noticed Saylor was in distress, it was too late.  Robert Saylor had died from asphyxiation.

Robert Saylor died on the floor of a theatre because he wanted to see a movie twice.  That’s chilling enough.  Reading further into the circumstances made my gut twist.  One quote stands about the rest.

“They did what their training dictated that they do.”

That training needs to change!  Support workers are often called upon to help people understand things that may not come intuitively to them.  Things like having to pay to see a movie twice.  Everyone’s support needs are unique.  Not making assumptions, not judging, and staying calm are very important when supporting someone with an intellectual disability.  How people are educated to respond when a person doesn’t understand can make a difference between life and death.  That doesn’t apply to just people with intellectual disabilities, that applies to humanity.

The Governor of Maryland has already put together a committee to see that reforms are put into place.

Better late than never.  They should be implementing something akin to Nonviolent Crisis Intervention.  For those of us in the field, it’s as basic as apple pie, a tried and true method of educating people to de-escalate situations like Robert Saylor’s.  It’s internationally recognized with resources and educators online.

Training of this type should be viewed as essential; a core part of police work. It’s a shame it’s taken this long to implement what is recognized as some of the most basic training in the community living world.

toy car in grass
Photo by Steven Guzzardi

Particularly when police are required to deal with so many vulnerable people in our community.  Not just people with disabilities, but those suffering from addictions, poverty, and gang issues.  Police should be equipped to with the best possible education by government to fulfill their very difficult jobs.

I applaud the governor taking action, I’m sorry it took a man’s death to do it.


Inclusion Blog Post

By Inclusion Blog Post

SHARE
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google+
Send Email


© 2019 THE INCLUSION BLOG. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Enjoyed this week’s blog? Subscribe to the Inclusion System Leadership Blog for great tips and insight right in your inbox! We publish new leadership and employee engagement content every week !!

Follow us on .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

fifteen + 6 =

  1. The fellow’s worker should not have left him alone. Where I work, that would have been grounds for severe discipline. Why didn’t he or she encourage Robert to come with him/her to the car? Or stay with him. This tragedy would have been avoided and he would have been safe.

  2. Such an avoidable tragedy. We read all too often about people dying from being restrained….what a terrifying way to die for this young man….shameful.

  3. Perhaps if the staff hadn’t been in such a rush to flee the scene to get the car, they would have been better equipped to STAY with Robert to advocate with mall security, assist him to communicate his needs, and help him leave the theatre with less hassle, OR stay to watch another movie. Another part of remembering support needs for person-centered planning is to keep people’s staff teams well trained for what to do in situations such as this. Retrospective planning after someone has died needs to STOP among support agencies.

  4. It is very Sad that this had to happen to Robert all because of a $10-15 ticket to a theatre. Come on people, 3 off-duty deputies wrestling a man with disabilities to the floor…seriously…who is showing their power here. They have nothing better to do than fight a person over a theatre ticket. Things have got to change and quickly…people in authority need to be educated NOW more than ever. I pray that there are some sensible people out there that would act out of kindness first before harming someone over a movie ticket.

    • Community education and outreach has never been more important. Ignorance and misinformation about people with intellectual disabilities is a danger to us all. The idea that physical force was the correct approach in their training is woefully out of date.