Ethan’s Law is a documentary film about the life, death, and legacy of a 26-year-old man who had Down syndrome and was killed by three Sheriff’s deputies over the price of a movie ticket.
On the night of January 12, 2013, Ethan and his support staff attended a viewing of Zero Dark Thirty at the Regal West View Cinemas in Frederick, Maryland. Ethan loved the movie so much he wanted to stay for a second showing, so he walked back into the theater and took his seat while his staff pulled the car around. Theater management noticed Ethan did not purchase a second ticket so he called upon a security guard, an off duty Frederick County Sheriff, to remove Ethan from the theater. After a few moments two more Sheriff deputies responded and the three men forced Ethan from his seat. Moments later Ethan lay dead, and autopsy ruled the cause of death to be asphyxiation and uncovered unexplained damage to Ethan’s larynx. Ethan’s death was ruled a homicide but no charges were filed.
Ethan’s mother Patti has responded by successfully lobbying for new legislation in Maryland. The Ethan Saylor Alliance for self advocates will educate law enforcement on how to interact and communicate with people that have special needs.
A tragedy like this can be prevented with proper training. Hopefully this film can be used to help inspire similar legislation in other states.
Written by: Edward Rhodes & Stephanie Holland Originally posted April 8, 2015 on The Road We’ve Shared Today we look at grassroots advocacy and what can happen when – as Margaret Mead said and fictional President Bartlett borrowed- a small group of people become committed to change.