Robert Saylor was suffocated to death by police officers for refusing to leave a movie theater after watching Zero Dark Thirty.
The Baltimore County Medical Examiner’s office declared that 26-year-old Robert Saylor, an intellectually disabled man, died by homicide while being taken into custody by three officers in Frederick, Maryland, ABC News reports.
Evidence will be given to the state’s attorney’s office for review after the investigation is complete. The Frederick County Bureau of Investigation is still conducting follow-up interviews with witnesses.
He was at the movies with a health aide the night of the incident. When the movie, Zero Dark Thirty ended, he refused to leave so employees called the police. Three deputies came to handle the situation. Saylor was handcuffed and was allegedly resisting when he had what authorities describe as a “medical emergency.” Better stated as, they found out he had down syndrome.
According to a law enforcement source, the 26-year-old went into distress when he was put face down on the ground. Deputies removed the handcuffs and took him to a hospital, where he was later declared deceased.
Baltimore County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Jennifer Bailey said the case is still under investigation and that the three officers involved in Saylor’s death; Lt. Scott Jewell, Sgt. Rich Rochford and Deputy First Class James Harris continue to work their normal assignments.
“In this case, the investigators are still working to determine what caused Mr. Saylor’s death,” Bailey said. She also said that the decision could eventually be made to put the deputies on administrative leave as more information becomes available.
Dr. George Kirkham a criminologist and former law enforcement officer told the Post, “The circumstances surrounding Saylor’s death suggest a possible case of positional asphyxia, which often goes hand in hand with a phenomenon called sudden in-custody death syndrome.”
“Positional asphyxia is typically the result of an intense struggle and often involves a person who is handcuffed and lying on their stomach after the struggle.” Kirkham says, “People often panic and can’t catch their breath. People with larger stomachs are particularly vulnerable, because their bellies will push into their sternums, making breathing even more difficult.”
Robert Saylor’s Death Ruled A Homicide Man With Down Syndrome Died In Police Custody
The death of a man who was reportedly killed after laying face-down in police custody has been ruled a homicide. WJLA reports that Robert Saylor, 26, of New Market, Md., was asphyxiated on Jan. 12, according to a medical examiner’s ruling late last week.
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