Target: Sheriff Charles A. Jenkins of Frederick County, Maryland
Goal: Remove the deputies responsible for the death of a 26-year-old man with Down syndrome from duty
A Maryland man with Down syndrome died last month after being forcibly evicted from a movie theater by police. Robert Saylor, 26, had just seen a movie with his assistant in Frederick, Maryland when he refused to leave the theater and go home. Theater staff called the police, who arrested Saylor when he still refused to leave. Saylor died of what was later ruled asphyxia after being forced onto the ground. Despite being responsible for his violent death of this man, the deputies who arrested Saylor remain on regular duty.
Unfortunately, this is not the first case of law enforcement officials inappropriately handling people with disabilities–mental and otherwise. Just last year, police in Houston killed a wheelchair-bound man with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. All too often, the mentally ill and disabled face brutal mistreatment from authorities who are not properly trained to interact with them. Saylor’s case is the latest in a long list of tragic incidents wherein police abuse their power to terrorize and murder the disabled.
Despite his nonviolent behavior, Saylor died at the hands of three officers who should have known not to brutalize him. It is completely unacceptable that all three deputies who handled this case remain on the force. Urge the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office to relieve these deputies of their duty until they are tried for homicide.
Dear Sheriff Charles A. Jenkins,
Last month, three of your deputies were called to a movie theater to remove an uncooperative patron. They ended up killing him after forcing him onto the ground in handcuffs. Robert Saylor suffered from Down syndrome and was not acting violently toward the officers. Despite his disability, your deputies treated him like a violent criminal. Their actions ultimately led to his death.
Despite their incomprehensible act of brutalizing an intellectually disabled young man, all three deputies responsible for killing Saylor remain on the force. Not only does their presence on duty potentially endanger the lives of other disabled citizens, it also sends a message that their actions were justified. I urge you to do the right thing and remove these officers from duty at once.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Victor via Flickr