The death of a Maryland man with Down syndrome who was in police custody following his arrest inside a local movie theater has been ruled a homicide by the Baltimore County Medical Examiner’s office.
Robert Saylor of New Market and a health aide had just finished watching Zero Dark Thirty at the Regal Cinemas Westview Stadium 16 on the night of January 12th, when Saylor requested to see it again.
Theater employees refused to allow the 26-year-old to see the movie again and told him he had to buy another ticket or leave.
When he wouldn’t budge, an employee called 911.
Three deputies from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the scene, and attempted to physically remove Saylor from the movie theater.
According to Cpl. Jennifer Bailey, Saylor became belligerent and began to curse at the deputies, prompting them to arrest him for resisting arrest.
He was placed in handcuffs and, according to a law enforcement source who spoke with WJLA, “was put face down on the ground.”
At that point Saylor reportedly began to experience a “medical emergency.” The deputies removed the handcuffs and rushed Saylor to the hospital, but he was pronounced DOA.
The official cause of death was found to be asphyxia.
According to the Frederick News-Post, all three deputies who responded to the movie theater call — Lt. Scott Jewell, Sgt. Rich Rochford and Deputy First Class James Harris — remain on regular duty.
Cpl. Bailey told the News-Post that the deputies could be put on administrative leave “as more information becomes available.”
The Frederick County State’s Attorney Charlie Smith similarly hasn’t made a decision concerning his office’s pursuit of charges against the deputies involved.
“If there is sufficient evidence there, we will make that decision and notify the sheriff’s office,” said Smith. “We have an obligation to the victim, as well as to the police officers, to make sure our investigation is thorough and complete.”
Saylor’s mother, meanwhile, challenged the deputies’ claim that her son was being aggressive.
“He has never had anyone put their hands on him in their life,” Patti Saylor told ABC 7. “He would not have been doing anything threatening to anybody.”