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Mother of disabled son killed by police over $10 movie ticket tells Congress she wants justice

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The mother of a young man with Down syndrome who was killed by police officers in Maryland told Congress on Tuesday that federal standards were needed to ensure law enforcement agents received the training they needed.

“I want to tell you that I am here as a grieving mother. It’s been 15 months. I’m not sure that it will ever stop,” Patti Saylor testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights.

Saylor’s son, Ethan, tried to stay for a second viewing of the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” in January 2013. But movie theater staff called security because Ethan hadn’t purchased a second ticket. Three off-duty Frederick County sheriff’s deputies forcefully removed Ethan from the theater, even though an aide told them that Ethan had Down syndrome and his mother was on her way.

“The one officer approached him, nicely at first, but demanded that he leave,” Saylor told the senators. “Ethan was trying to buy a ticket using his cell phone. He had no money, he did not drive for himself. He needed to depend on others to get the things he wanted in life, and he wanted to stay and watch the movie.”

“The officers proceeded to physically remove him from the theater, dragged him from his seat, tried to handcuff him, when that didn’t work while he was standing, they placed him on the ground, put handcuffs on, and my son died of asphyxiation on that floor of that movie theater for that $10 ticket.”

In her written testimony, Saylor said that her son died after his throat was crushed by the officers.

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“While anyone, disability or not, could have been injured or killed in Ethan’s situation that evening, our family also remains deeply concerned that Ethan’s rights, as an individual with a disability, were violated. The autopsy showed that Ethan’s larynx was crushed while being restrained by the officers. The manner in which Ethan was restrained that evening, with his hands behind his back and forced to lie face down on his stomach, has for years been considered excessive due to the chance of positional asphyxia.”

Saylor also said that Ethan posed no threat.

“He was not threatening, he was not in crisis. He had a problem that needed solving: how do I stay and watch the movie when my aide is telling me it is time to go home? I would have solved that problem in literally 5 minutes.”

After Ethan’s death, Saylor and her family joined with disability rights advocates in Maryland to urge an investigation into the incident. Governor Martin O’Malley later created a task force to examine statewide policies regarding the training of law enforcement when it came to interacting with intellectually disabled individuals. Saylor called on Congress to take similar actions at the federal level.

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“Since Ethan’s death, we have been on our own advocacy journey to achieve justice for Ethan, while at the same time ensuring what happened to Ethan never happens to another member of the Down syndrome and disability community ever again.”

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Trump has an ‘invulnerable reality distortion field’ — that makes Republicans defend the indefensible: GOP strategist

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Republicans are put in a difficult position by President Donald Trump's refusal to accept reality, a top GOP strategist explained on MSNBC on Monday.

Anchor Kasie Hunt played a clip of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attempting to defend Trump's public statements that he could accept foreign election interference in hopes of being re-elected in 2020 despite his lousy poll numbers.

GOP strategist Michael Steel offered his analysis of the situation facing Republicans.

"This is the hardest thing for every surrogate of President Trump and every Congressional Republican to deal with," Steel explained. "His position is wrong. His position is indefensible. His position, even when he cleaned it up, wasn’t really right."

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Ex-DOJ lawyer explains how Trump is engaged in a cover-up — and it has nothing to do with Russia

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On Monday's edition of MSNBC's "The Beat," former White House attorney and law professor Neal Katyal walked anchor Ari Melber through the egregious ways President Donald Trump has abused executive privilege — and is covering up more than just the Russia scandal.

"Executive privilege is this concept, Ari, that goes all the way back to the founding, the idea that presidents should have some zone of secrecy around them, to have confidential deliberations and decision making," said Katyal. "I've been in two different administrations and I would say particularly President Obama was really careful to make sure that he wouldn't invoke executive privilege unless absolutely necessary. He only invoked it once in eight years, even though many years he had Congress opposed to him in terms of being from the opposite party."

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Ex-Ambassador to Russia explains how Putin will exploit the divisions between Trump and his advisors

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The former U.S. ambassador to Russia explained how Vladimir Putin will exploit the divisions between President Donald Trump and his advisors.

"A double bombshell in reporting from The New York Times this weekend about the president and his relationship with Russian president Putin," anchor Kasie Hunt said.

"First, The Times reports that the U.S. is escalating online attacks on Russia’s power grid in an effort, 'partly as a warning and partly to be poised to conduct cyber strikes if a major conflict broke out between Washington and Moscow.' But that’s not all," she noted. "The second bombshell in that report that officials are worried about briefing the president."

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