New Commission Created In Wake Of Disabled Maryland Man's Death | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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New Commission Created In Wake Of Disabled Maryland Man's Death

The death of a Maryland man with Down syndrome while in sheriff's custody is prompting a new effort to improve interaction with developmentally disabled people.

Gov. Martin O'Malley created the new Maryland Commission for Effective Community Inclusion of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities after the death of Robert Ethan Saylor.

Back in January, the 26-year old Saylor, who had Down syndrome, died when he was handcuffed and violently restrained by three off-duty Frederick County Sherriff's Deputies after Saylor caused a minor disturbance at a local movie theater.

An autopsy revealed Saylor died of asphyxiation aggravated by his condition.

Col. Marcus Brown, the superintendent of state police, says a broader focus on understanding behavioral cues could help officers respond better in similar situations. The commission includes state public safety officials, police agencies and advocates for people with disabilities.

In September, the Saylor family presented O'Malley with a petition with 340,000 signatures calling for an investigation into Robert's death.


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