FREDERICK, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — Frederick County’s top prosecutor is promising a thorough investigation into the death in police custody of a man with Down syndrome.
State’s Attorney Charlie Smith said Wednesday he has received the investigative file from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office on the death of 26-year-old Robert Ethan Saylor, of New Market.
Saylor died of asphyxiation Jan. 12 after three sheriff’s deputies working as security guards tried to forcibly remove him at the manager’s request from a Frederick movie theater, where he had finished watching a movie and was refusing to leave. On Monday, the deputies were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. The state medical examiner’s office has ruled the death a homicide.
Smith says the file doesn’t include the final autopsy report on Saylor. He says his office will need that document to complete its investigation.
Smith will then decide whether to bring criminal charges against the officers, or to present evidence to a grand jury.
Joseph B. Espo, a Baltimore attorney representing the family, says they want answers.
The Sheriff’s Office previously said Saylor cursed and resisted arrest and was handcuffed as he was led out. Before leaving the theater Saylor began having what the Sheriff’s Office said was a medical emergency. Authorities say the handcuffs were taken off and Saylor was taken to a hospital, where he died.
“I think what they most want to see out of the investigation is a clear account of what happened and why it happened,” Espo said.
Saylor’s mother, Patti Saylor, told television station WJLA-TV that her son went to see the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” with a health aide. The family’s lawyer said Tuesday that the aide had gone to get the car, something she was allowed to do, when events unfolded. Patti Saylor said her son had no preexisting medical conditions and “just loved unconditionally,” she said in a segment that aired in January.
“He would not have been doing anything threatening to anybody,” she said.
Saylor’s obituary says he loved his cat and music, particularly Reggae.
Sheriff’s Office Spokeswoman Cpl. Jennifer Bailey said Monday that deputies who work with the public received training last year on interacting with people with mental health issues. The training by the county’s health department did not specifically cover Down syndrome, however.
Down syndrome is a genetic, chromosomal disorder first reported by medical authorities in 1866.
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