My big brother, Ethan Saylor, was a 26 year old man with Down Syndrome who died in the custody of three off-duty Frederick County Deputy Sheriffs on January 12th, 2013 over the price of a movie ticket. Our family is hurt and left with many unanswered questions. We're calling for an independent investigation into Ethan's death.
Ethan's crime? He wouldn't leave a movie theater because he wanted to see Zero Dark Thirty one more time, but didn't pay for the second showing. When he refused to get out of the seat for the next show police attempted to pull him out of his chair and he resisted. Ethan's aide asked the police to wait and that Ethan would calm down shortly if they left him alone. She specifically told them that touching him would just escalate the situation. They didn't listen.
One deputy pulled Ethan from his seat and began struggling with him. Then two more off-duty deputies joined in, wrestling Ethan and trying to handcuff him. Then they "took him down," falling in a heap with Ethan at the bottom. Witnesses say they could hear him crying and calling for our mom. Then he stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest. In just a few moments he was dead - eventually ruled a homicide by asphyxiation.
To date, the only investigation conducted was written from the narrow perspective of the Frederick County Sheriffs Department. They investigated and cleared themselves of any wrongdoing. And for us, so many questions are left unanswered because of this.
Part of the problem is that police officers in Maryland aren't trained enough in how to deal with developmentally disabled people like my brother. I think training is an important next step in making sure that what happens to my brother never happens to anyone else.
We need a comprehensive, independent investigation that will show all sides of the truth; unbiased and thorough. I want my governor and attorney general to get justice for my brother, and to implement training protocols so that no other family will ever have to experience the pain my family feels.
We miss Ethan every day. He didn't deserve this. And no one else does, either.
- Governor Martin O'Malley
- Attorney General Doug Gansler
- Secretary of Disabilities
- Senator David Brinkley
I am writing regarding Ethan Saylor, a man with Down syndrome who died while at The Regal Westview Movie Theater in Frederick, Maryland in January. I am requesting that you appoint a Special Prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation into Ethan’s death, so the facts can come out and those responsible can be appropriately prosecuted.
While waiting for his support staff to retrieve their car after the movie, Ethan refused to leave his seat. He was restrained face-down by three plain-clothes officers moonlighting as mall security. Ethan died from a crushed larynx while handcuffed. His senseless death was ruled a homicide, but the Frederick County Sheriff and Prosecutor neglected to conduct a thorough investigation of the facts and the grand jury refused to indict. Ethan’s death was senseless and entirely avoidable and we need an independent, completed, and thorough investigation as to what happened that night.
In addition to the investigation, we need to implement training protocols so that no other family will ever have to experience the pain that the Saylor's have experienced.
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