International Disability Rights News Service
Your quick, once-a-day look at disability rights, self-determination
and the movement toward full community inclusion around the world.

Thursday, May 27, 2004
Year V, Edition 943

Today's front section features 8 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.
Click on the"Below the Fold" link at the bottom of this section for 34 more news items.

"No one -- especially a husband with an inherent conflict of interest -- should be able to decide to withhold routine care, food and water from a person who is not dying and who has not unambiguously expressed his or her desires. To permit substitute decision-makers to make such life-and-death choices would place thousands of people with disabilities in extreme jeopardy."

--Stephen J. Taylor, Ph.D., commenting on the case of Terri Schiavo, whose husband wants the Florida courts to allow her feeding tube to be removed so she will die of starvation and dehydration (Fourth story)

"They are happy."
--Timothy Rastello, an attorney representing the family of Paul Childs III, a 15-year-old with mental retardation who was shot to death by a Denver Police officer last summer. The City of Denver agreed Tuesday to give his family over $1 million to avoid facing a $5 million lawsuit (First story)



Childs Family Settles With Denver For $1.325 Million

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 27, 2004

DENVER, COLORADO--The family of Paul Childs III will receive $1.325 million under a pre-trial settlement reached Tuesday with the City of Denver. The payout would be the second largest in the city's history, once it is approved by the City Council.

Family members of the teenager, who was shot by a Denver Police officer last summer, chose not to comment over concerns that their statements might cause the council to reject the plan.

"They are happy," said attorney Timothy Rastello, who represented the family along with famous attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr.

City Attorney Cole Finnegan said of the settlement, "This will allow us to move forward."

Ten of council's 12 members said they would vote in favor of the settlement when it meets on June 7.

By accepting the money, the family would agree not to hold the city liable for Childs' death.

The settlement comes less than one year after 15-year-old Childs was shot to death at his home by Officer James Turney.

The Childs family called 911 on July 5 in the hopes that police could help calm Paul, who had mental retardation and epilepsy, after a series of outbursts in his home. Turney arrived at the house and drew his firearm even though two other officers, who were on the scene before him, had non-lethal Tasers. Turney shot Childs four times when the teen failed to follow police instructions to drop an 8 1/2 inch kitchen knife he was clutching to his chest while standing in a doorway.

In April, Turney was given a 10-month suspension without pay after Manager of Safety Al LaCabe determined that Turney had violated the department's "efficiency and safety" rules by forcing a confrontation. If he returns to the force, Turney will not be allowed to patrol the street, but will instead be offered a desk job.

"It's such a controversial issue that I think it's something that we best put behind us," LaCabe said after the settlement was announced. "Now we move forward . . . without this being held over our heads."

Child's death was the second fatal shooting of a person with a disability by Turney since he joined the department six years ago. On January 30, 2002, he shot to death 18-year-old Gregory Smith Jr. in the home of Smith's mother. Turney shot the partially deaf Smith after the teen failed to follow orders to drop a pocket knife.

Turney and another officer still face a lawsuit filed over Smith's death. That case is scheduled for trial this year.

Turney was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in both cases.

The Childs had planned to sue the city for $5 million. The city's efforts to change its "use of force" policies, and to discipline Turney quickly -- in spite of opposition from the police union -- prompted the family to accept much less, Rastello told the Denver Post.

Some are considering the city's actions the most comprehensive in its history.

"Deal hasn't cooled police-reform effort" (Denver Post)
"$1.325 million would start healing in Childs case" (Rocky Mountain News)
"Key dates in the case" (Denver Post)
"The Death of Paul Childs III" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



Greek Cabbies Asked To Be More Accommodating

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 27, 2004

ATHENS, GREECE--With the 2004 Olympic Games coming up August 13, followed by the Paralympic Games beginning September 17, the Transport Ministry is encouraging the city's taxi drivers to be more friendly toward people with disabilities.

The ministry is also enlisting support from police to stop cab drivers from refusing to pick up seniors and passengers with disabilities.

"We found that vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and people with disabilities, are subjected to great deal of discomfort by the improper behavior of taxi drivers," transport minister, Michalis Liapis wrote in a letter to the Public Order Ministry.

Liapis said most of the complaints it has received concerned taxis at train and bus stations.

Inspections of Athens' yellow cabs are expected to increase in the weeks leading up to the international event.

Four years ago, disability rights advocates criticized Australia's Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission for allowing hundreds of accessible buses to be taken from their usual routes to be put into service for the 2000 Olympics and Paralympics.

The official website of the Athens 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games



Port Authority Intentionally Discriminated Against Rider, Jury Says

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 27, 2004

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA--The Port Authority of Allegheny County deliberately discriminated against a man who uses a wheelchair by failing to provide him with accessible bus service.

That was the decision handed down Wednesday by a local jury, which granted Melvin Kramer a $10,000 award, the Post-Gazette reported.

Kramer, who has been paraplegic since a 1998 traffic accident, kept a logbook in which he detailed at least 160 times when subway elevators malfunctioned or buses refused to pick him up because their wheelchair ramps and lifts were broken. Kramer's attorney, Noah Fardo, estimated that Kramer had been passed by 300 times during the past five years.

Fardo accused the Port Authority of intentionally allowing buses with broken lifts to leave the garages to travel routes even though buses with functioning equipment were available.

Port Authority attorney Nicholas Evashavik argued Tuesday that wheelchair equipment frequently breaks down.

"If the lift breaks every day, that is not illegal," Evashavik said, adding that Kramer failed to prove the Port Authority did not fix the lifts, inspect buses or respond to riders' complaints.

The $10,000 was the same amount an arbitration board had granted Kramer in 2002. The Port Authority appealed the decision to the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, which voted 10-2 in Kramer's favor.

In January of this year, Donald Stancile made national headlines when he was arrested for taking hostage a Port Authority bus. The 53-year-old had parked his motorized wheelchair in front of the bus and refused to move after the bus driver refused to manually operate a hydraulic lift that would not open automatically. Stancile spent a night in jail for his act of civil disobedience.

A magistrate later dropped the disorderly conduct charge against Stancile and reduced a misdemeanor obstructing traffic charge to a summary offense, the least serious infraction.



Terri Schiavo Family Can Have Unsupervised Visit, Judge Greer Rules

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 27, 2004

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA--A judge has cleared the way for Terri Schiavo's family will be able to visit her this Saturday without having to hire extra security to do so.

Despite objections from Terri's husband, Pinellas County Circuit Judge George Greer said her parents, Mary and Bob Schindler, and her brother and sister could have a 1 1/2 hour unsupervised visit.

Last Sunday, the family was able to see her for the first time since March 29, when her husband and guardian, Michael Schiavo, banned them from Terri's nursing home room after a staff member found what appeared to be puncture marks on her arms. Mr. Schiavo prohibited the family from seeing her, claiming that he suspected they tried to inject her with something. Police later determined that there was no foul play, that the marks were likely caused by an apparatus used to transfer Terri to and from her bed, and that there was nothing unusual in her bloodstream.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Schiavo said his in-laws could spend time with his wife, but only if they paid for an extra security guard to monitor their visit.

The Schindlers took him to court last week to have unsupervised visits. According to the Associated Press and other news sources, Greer said he would decide sometime next week whether any future visitations should be supervised.

"The fact that we get back to see her makes us happy," Bob Schindler said after the hearing.

Terri, 40, breathes on her own, but is given food and water through a tube installed through the wall of her stomach. Her husband and several doctors claim that she has been in a "persistent vegetative state" since she collapsed and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes in February 1990. The courts have consistently supported Mr. Schiavo's claims that Terri cannot recover from her brain injury, that she does not feel pain, and that she would not have wanted to live "by artificial means".

Terri's parents believe that she is alert and responsive and that she could improve through therapies which Mr. Schiavo has denied her for at least the past 10 years. They have claimed that Terri's husband wants her to die so that he can marry a woman with whom he has fathered two children. The Schindlers want him removed as Terri's guardian and have pushed for an investigation into their allegations that he has abused, neglected and financially exploited her. They also suspect that Michael may have caused Terri's initial collapse.

The Schindlers and advocates have defended Terri's right to live, noting that allowing her to die by starvation would reinforce the message that the lives of people with certain disabilities are not worth living. Under pressure from disability rights and right-to-life advocates, Governor Bush championed "Terri's Law" rapidly through the Legislature, giving him permission to order Terri's feeding tube reinserted six days after it had been removed on October 16, 2003.

Earlier this month, the Pinellas Circuit Court upheld Mr. Schiavo's challenge to the law, which claimed it violated Terri's right to privacy and the Florida Constitution's separation of powers provisions. The Florida 2nd District Court of Appeal has since asked that Bush's appeal be moved quickly to the state Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, Steven J. Taylor, Ph.D. the director of the Center on Human Policy at Syracuse University, wrote an opinion piece on Terri's situation for the Post-Standard.

"No one -- especially a husband with an inherent conflict of interest - should be able to decide to withhold routine care, food and water from a person who is not dying and who has not unambiguously expressed his or her desires," wrote Dr. Taylor, who is the editor of the journal 'Mental Retardation'. "To permit substitute decision-makers to make such life-and-death choices would place thousands of people with disabilities in extreme jeopardy."

"Betraying Terri Schiavo; Disability is not a reason to die" (Post-Standard)



"Special-ed Jackson student, Fishers employee wins national award"

May 27, 2004

CANTON, OHIO--The following six paragraphs are excerpts from a story in Thursday's Canton Repository:

Her boss says she’s a model worker.

Her teachers brag about her accomplishments.

Her co-workers admit she keeps them in line.

The Fishers Foods carry-out employee (Andrea Mayle) has the Council for Exceptional Children's "Yes I Can!" award in the bag.

"It makes me very happy," said the almost 22-year-old when asked how she felt about the honor, which comes just before her Wednesday graduation from Jackson High School. "It's pretty cool."

But, Mayle confesses, she's not so sure what all the fuss is about. After all, the special-education student who attends McKinley Center's Transitional Vocational program just does her job like everybody else . . . Mayle, who has Down syndrome, has worked at the North Canton location for nearly two years.

Entire article:
"Special-ed Jackson student, Fishers employee wins national award" (Canton Repository)



American Bar Association: Focus on Disability Rights

The ADA opened up the private sector in the same way that its counterpart, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, required government entities to provide access to public facilities and programs for people with disabilities. However, even though the ADA provides no affirmative action for people with disabilities and only requires certain reasonable accommodations be made, it is under attack and not all of the attacks are coming from the conservative right.

Ironically, many who are fierce proponents of equal rights, do not equate disability rights with other civil rights. Those of us in the disability community have a hard time understanding why we have found so few allies in the traditional civil rights communities. Most Americans believe that everyone, regardless of their race, should be allowed equal access to ride on a public bus but that attitude does not extend to a person with a disability who may need an accommodation that costs money to be able to ride that same bus.


# EXPRESS EXTRA!!! From the Inclusion Daily Express Archives (One year ago):

State's Longest-Serving Inmate Has Mental Disabilities; Should Not Be In Prison, Experts Say
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 27, 2003

LAGRANGE, KENTUCKY--A man who reportedly has mental retardation and a mental illness has spent more than the last 50 years behind bars for murder -- longer than all but five other convicts in the United States. Now experts say he never should have been tried for the crimes, and he should not be in prison.

Dave Embry, who is now 69, pleaded guilty in November 1952 to shooting to death Martin Wilson and his wife, Birdena. A jury sentenced him to life in prison without parole, even though the state's own expert witness testified that Embry could not answer questions adequately and that he did not understand the seriousness of the crime.

On the morning of the trial, Embry's attorney had him withdraw an insanity plea and plead guilty to willful murder, apparently to avoid the death penalty. The sentence of life without parole was not an official sentence for murder at the time, but some say the jury was not willing to have Embry executed because they all knew of his mental retardation.

More than a dozen experts recently interviewed by the Louisville Courier-Journal have said that the evidence suggests Embry should not have been tried because of his lack of understanding and his mental illness. They said he should be in a psychiatric facility where he can receive treatment.

"He should have been hospitalized, and he ought not to be in prison," said retired Kentucky Chief Justice John S. Palmore, a former commonwealth's attorney.

Related article:
"Longest-serving inmate in state mentally ill, experts say" (Associated Press)


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