Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Death of arrested man with Down syndrome ruled homicide

by Brett Wilkins of Digital Journal:
The death of a mentally disabled Maryland man who was arrested by police after refusing to leave a cinema has officially been ruled a homicide.
The Washington Post reports that Frederick County Sheriff's Cpl. Jennifer Bailey announced on Friday that the state medical examiner's office has concluded that 26-year-old Robert Saylor of New Market died of asphyxia while in police custody on January 12.
Saylor, who had Down syndrome, allegedly refused to leave a movie theater after viewing "Zero Dark Thirty" on a Saturday night. According to ABC 7, Saylor, who was at the theater with a health aide, wanted to see the movie again. When Saylor refused to leave, cinema staff notified three Frederick County deputies working security at the venue.
The Frederick News-Post reports that Saylor allegedly cursed at the deputies, who then physically removed him from his seat and from the theater. Deputies claim Saylor continued to resist them and was subsequently handcuffed.
A law enforcement source familiar with the case told ABC 7 that Saylor went into medical distress when he was forced face-down to the ground. After realizing he was suffering from some sort of medical emergency, the deputies removed the handcuffs from Saylor and had him transported to a nearby hospital, where he was later declared dead.
Patti Saylor, the victim's mother, told ABC 7 last month that her son did not suffer from any pre-existing medical conditions and that she did not understand how he could have died in police custody.
"He just loved unconditionally everybody," she said. "He has never had anyone put their hands on him in his life. He would not have been doing anything threatening to anybody."
The three deputies involved in Saylor's arrest have been identified as: Lt. Scott Jewell, Sgt. Rich Rochford and Deputy First Class James Harris. All three continue to work their normal assignments while an investigation continues.

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