The leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome.

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Patti Saylor To Testify at Senate Hearing


Patti Saylor, mother of Ethan Saylor, to testify before the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on The Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights

Saylor will share her story about her son, Ethan, who happened to have Down syndrome, who was tragically killed by three sheriff deputies last year in his local movie theatre 



Ms. Patti Saylor, mother of Ethan Saylor and Down syndrome advocate, will testify before the U.S.  Senate Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, chaired by Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) on April 29, 2014 at 10:00 am (Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 226 - location is tentative).

On January 12th, 2013, Robert “Ethan” Saylor, a 26-year-old man who happened to have Down syndrome, was tragically killed during an incident with three off-duty sheriff’s deputies at his local movie theater in Frederick, Maryland. While waiting for his support staff to retrieve their car after the movie, Ethan decided he wanted to remain for another showing. He verbalized to the officers his intent to remain and refused to leave his seat. Ethan was restrained face-down by three plainclothes officers moonlighting as mall security. Ethan died from asphyxiation from a crushed larynx while handcuffed. His avoidable death was ruled a homicide by the Maryland Medical Examiner and a thorough investigation was never conducted.

Since Ethan’s death, Patti continues to advocate for justice for Ethan and to ensure what happened to Ethan never happens to a member of the Down syndrome community again. “I appreciate Chairman Durbin calling this hearing.  I am confident that this hearing will help save the lives of individuals with intellectual and development disabilities in the future. I look forward to sharing Ethan’s story and ensuring his legacy lives on for others with Down syndrome and other disabilities.” said Patti Saylor.

This past February, Patti Saylor received the Advocate of the Year award from the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) for her tireless efforts to make sure that what happened to Ethan will never happen to another person who has Down syndrome or another disability again.

“We commend Senator Durbin for convening this hearing on one of the most important and pressing issues for the Down syndrome community for years to come,” said NDSS Vice President of Advocacy and Affiliate Relations Sara Hart Weir. “Our organization, NDSS, looks forward to working with the Senate Judiciary Committee to adopt systematic policy change at the federal level to ensure further lives are saved from senseless tragedies like Ethan’s. We have a real opportunity to make a difference in the lives of all individuals with disabilities around the country.”

People with Down syndrome and other disabilities deserve and have the right to a meaningful life in their communities, whether it’s through a career of their choosing, a living arrangement of their liking, recreational activities of their selecting, or just friendships of their electing.

For people with Down syndrome and other disabilities to be valued members of welcoming communities, those in public sector positions need to receive the very best training when it comes to interacting with individuals with Down syndrome and other disabilities, and those programs need to be adequately funded.

Saylor will be part of the second of two panels before the committee. The first panel will consist of Denise E. O’Donnell, Director of the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. The second panel will feature Saylor, First Deputy Superintendent Alfonza Wysinger of the Chicago Police Department, Sergeant A.D. Paul of the Plano (Tx) Police Department, Judge Jay M. Quinn of Minnesota’s,  Fourth Judicial District, and Pete Earley an author from Fairfax, Virginia. A full list of the witnesses can be seen here.


About NDSS

The National Down Syndrome Society is a nonprofit organization representing the more than 400,000 Americans with Down syndrome. The mission of NDSS is to be the national advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. The National Down Syndrome Society envisions a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations, and become valued members of welcoming community. 

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