FREDERICK, Md. (WUSA9) -- The state of Maryland took a big step forward for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities on May 12.
Governor Larry Hogan signed a bill that turns up the volume for the voices of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by mandating that self-advocates become involved in the training of police officers.
For more than two years, Patti Saylor of Frederick, Maryland has been channeling her pain into fueling change. Patti Saylor says it was done in her son Ethan's honor,"This will be the Ethan Saylor alliance for self-advocates as educators and its essence is to recognize that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities should be at the table for anything we discuss."
It was January 2013, when Ethan died in police custody after being removed from a movie theater by three off-duty Frederick County Sherriff's deputies moonlighting as security, for not having a $12 movie ticket.
The Medical Examiner ruled Ethan's death a homicide by asphyxiation. A grand jury found no wrongdoing on the part of those deputies.
Patti Saylor's fight for justice and police training has included a civil lawsuit, petitions and the appointment of the first-ever Commission for the Effective Inclusion of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Now the people she's fighting for will be able to help train police and have a voice.
Law enforcement training has already started in the state with all new recruits. Now, Patti Saylor hopes self-advocates from the intellectual and developmental disability community will be involved in that training.
"Self advocates have a voice and we need to listen to them. It's their life," Patti Saylor said.
The bill signed goes into effect July 1st, Maryland is the only state in the country that has such a bill.