FREDERICK, Md. — A grand jury has decided not to indict three Maryland sheriff’s deputies in the death of a man with Down syndrome, prosecutors said Friday.
State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith said that Lt. Scott Jewell, Sgt. Rich Rochford and Deputy First Class James Harris would not face criminal charges in the death of Robert Ethan Saylor, 26, of New Market.
Saylor suffocated to death Jan. 12 at the Westview Stadium 16 cinema in Frederick.
The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office says the deputies were moonlighting as mall security officers when they were called because Saylor refused to leave the theater. The agency says they handcuffed Saylor and forced him to the ground after he resisted arrest and cursed at them.
Smith said at a news conference that at no point during the brief encounter did the deputies use force at Saylor’s neck or above his shoulders.
He said Saylor was handcuffed and on his stomach for one to two minutes. Smith said that when Saylor began showing signs of a medical emergency, the deputies removed the handcuffs and administered CPR.
Smith said the medical examiner’s report says Saylor died of asphyxia, with contributing factors that included obesity and cardiovascular disease. He said the ME found that Saylor’s health was compromised by physical conditions that made him more susceptible to sudden death.
Smith called Saylor’s death a “tragic and untimely loss.”
Patrick McAndrew, a lawyer for the three officers, said “each one of these deputies is the consummate law enforcement professional” and did what his training dictated.
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