Medical examiner rules man’s death homicide

Adan Salazar
February 19, 2013

A Maryland mother is distraught after her 26-year-old son died last month following his encounter with three off-duty sheriff’s deputies in a movie theater.

Robert Ethan Saylor
Robert Ethan Saylor’s death was ruled a homicide yesterday by the Baltimore County Medical Examiner’s office, declaring he died from asphyxia (suffocation) while in police custody.

Saylor apparently liked the movie Zero Dark Thirty, so much so that he wanted to stick around the theater for another showing; but a Regal Cinema employee wouldn’t have it and asked Saylor to leave.

When the theater patron refused to leave his seat, the employee summoned theater security who, according to reports, was comprised of three off-duty sheriff’s deputies: Lt. Scott Jewell, Sgt. Rich Rochford and Deputy First Class James Harris.

Allegedly a struggle ensued leading the “security guards” to handcuff Saylor, throwing his face on the ground where police say he began undergoing a “medical emergency;” Saylor was after all afflicted with Down Syndrome.

However, the “medical emergency” observed was likely Saylor writhing in pain, struggling to breathe.

According to the Daily Mail, Cpl. Jennifer Bailey, of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, stated, “They made numerous attempts to get him to leave, he was cursing at them, at that point they physically removed him, and he began having the medical emergency.” [sic]

She elaborated further stating the deputies in question “immediately removed the handcuffs and administered first aid” when they noticed the disabled man going into distress, adding “It’s a very sad case, and not something we see everyday.”

The case is now under investigation by the Maryland State Attorney’s Office.

The Huffington Post reported that Patti Saylor, Robert’s mother, stated Robert “has never had anyone put their hands on him in his life,” implying he may have reacted out of fear. “He would not have been doing anything threatening to anybody.”

In a post that has appeared in several places online, a woman named Lynda Willis has urged others to help spread awareness of the horrific story:

The police officers remain on duty and were allowed to invoke their rights as police officers not to provide statements even though they were not on duty or performing official duties at the time. They were security guards in police uniforms.

The county police are investigating and the story has received local news coverage. Please share this everywhere both to ensure justice but also to raise public awareness.

Where is our humanity when a young, obviously disabled young man dies for the price of a movie ticket? My son is worth a lot more to me & society than eleven dollars.

A reminder to police everywhere: you are employed to protect the people, not yourselves. If these three men have committed murder, or homicide, it is not the place of a police or sheriff’s department to protect them. If the department does protect them, at least in my eyes, they are complicit in murder. People do not pay taxes for police to go out and act like gang members and kill innocent people.

Below is contact information for the Frederick County Sheriff’s department:

Frederick County -Law Enforcement Center
110 Airport Drive East
Frederick, MD 21701
Ph: (301) 600-1046
Fax: (301)600-1527

Frederick County Maryland Facebook page:

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