For Immediate Release
March 25, 2013
Down Syndrome Uprising
‘Down Syndrome Uprising’ Condemns conclusion of Grand Jury Investigation into the Homicide of Robert Ethan Saylor -
(U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland) —Down Syndrome Uprising (DSU) activists condemn the Maryland Attorney General and State Prosecutor J. Charles Smith for failing to bring charges against three off-duty police officers whose actions led to the death of Robert Ethan Saylor.
Exactly 69 days after Mr. Saylor died of asphyxiation, J. Charles Smith III, States Attorney for Frederick County, issued a press release that the Grand Jury’s decision was to conclude their investigation without criminal charges. The investigation, led by Smith’s office, found insufficient evidence to charge the three officers with Saylor’s homicide. The officers, working as mall security at the time, restrained the 26 year-old man with three sets of handcuffs after refusing to leave his seat at a movie theater.
Neither the state’s attorney nor the Grand Jury dispute that three officers’ actions directly lead to the man’s death, rather they found primary responsibility for Mr. Saylor’s death was in his genes:
“The manner of death met the medical definition of homicide in that “but for the actions of other individuals Mr. Saylor would not have died.”
The reason these individuals were not held accountable for Mr. Saylor’s death is “this individual was already compromised by his Down’s syndrome (sic) obesity, habitus and heart disease making him more susceptible to sudden death in stressful conditions which would compromise his breathing.”
The Grand Jury’s response is tantamount to saying Mr. Saylor died because he had Down syndrome rather than the fact he was the recipient of a violent encounter with three members of security.
DSU is demanding an independent investigation into the homicide of Mr. Saylor given the fact this investigation was conducted by the Frederick County Sheriff's Office, which employed the officers. Their hope is this demand will be championed by local and national Down syndrome organizations in the U.S. The support of all advocacy organizations is needed to push forward on this important human rights issue.
Down Syndrome Uprising is a nearly 1,000 member strong global grassroots online activist’s initiative, organized by six mothers of children with Down syndrome. These organizers, living in four countries (U.S., Canada, Ireland and U.K.), believe the rights of people with Down syndrome are a human rights issue like any discriminated group. Their goal is to move beyond awareness of people with Ds to full acceptance and inclusion of these individuals in to society.
Their base of operations is a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/DownSyndromeUprising) and a blog (http://downsyndromeuprising.blogspot.com/).
DSU, formed in January 2013, has grown to almost 1000 fellow online activists. They organize call to actions and function as a communication hub for the community of Down syndrome activists.