Thursday, September 12, 2013

More About Ethan Saylor

Disabled Americans and the Law
Diane Dimond, Huffington Post - September 12, 2013

I'm not fond of some of the writer's phrasing … a little too much of that "special" tone … but the article does give a very good overview of the Ethan Saylor case. I think Dimond has the scenario pretty close to correct. Ethan's death wasn't intentional, but it was negligent, due, probably, to poor training, ignorance, and maybe above all stubbornness.

I really appreciated reading a bit more than elsewhere about Ethan's "18 year old aide", who could have short-circuited the situation and tried, but wasn't listened to. I think that deserves some looking into as well. What other layers of prejudice were involved? Did the moonlighting police officers disregard the aide because she was female and young? Was she conventionally pretty? Or, was she the kind of young woman that asshole guys don't even notice are there, much less pay any attention to? I feel terrible for Ethan and his family, but I think at the moment I'm more heartbroken for that aide. I hope she's some kind of ok now. Scratch that. I hope that somehow her effort to help was recognized, and that she gets to keep working in the disability field, if she wants to.

I've given presentations on disability awareness to several classes of police cadets in my area, and we always spend a good portion of our time talking about the fact that people with disabilities may respond differently than expected to officer commands. I tell them that I'm not qualified to train them on the specifics of physical restraint for each of the scores of disability types, but that the key anyway is to keep an open mind and always be aware of the possibility that disability might be a factor. If I get another chance to do a police academy class, I'll definitely bring up Ethan Saylor, and his aide.