The Story Thus Far (Or At Least My Version of It)
(Originally posted 4/13)
Ethan (he went by his middle name) went to see a movie with a companion on January 12th of this year. [For the record, yes, his companion was an 18-year-old female. What average 26-year-old man wants to go to the movies with his mother rather than a pretty girl? Just sayin’] After the movie ended, his companion went to get the car and asked Ethan to wait inside. According to reports, this was something routine, not unusual. When she returned, she found that someone in the theater had called mall security to remove Ethan. The ‘security’ team that responded were actually three off-duty, non-uniformed officers from the Frederick County Sheriff’s office – Lt. Scott Jewell, a 23-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, Sgt. Rich Rochford, a 16-year veteran, and Deputy First Class James Harris, a 10-year veteran. (One would expect all that training and experience could handle such a non-emergency situation) Ethan’s companion “spoke with management and at least one deputy to try to defuse the situation but was ignored.” What happened next, as described in the Frederick News Post on March 22, 2013:
Saylor cursed and resisted the deputies, and he was briefly handcuffed with three sets of cuffs linked together, according to the sheriff’s office. Saylor ended up on the floor during the struggle and had a medical emergency. He was taken to Frederick Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the sheriff’s office said.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore ruled in February that Saylor died of asphyxia and that his death was a homicide.
From what we’ve gathered from various news sources, Ethan was placed face down on the theater floor while the three ‘officers’ sat on him, linked their sets of handcuffs together, and forced his arms behind his back to cuff him (a hog-tie). The investigation that followed was conducted within the Sheriff’s Office. A grand jury was convened to decide whether criminal charges should be brought against the officers.
The statement that was issued by the State’s Attorney’s Office said: “All 17 eyewitnesses wrote out statements concerning what they saw and heard, including his 18 year old caretaker.” It also states that: “comment cannot be made on witness testimony but we can confirm that the Lead Investigator at the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, the Deputy Medical Examiner, and a police training expert, and all 3 involved Deputies were subpoenaed and did testify.” [Here’s another rub for me…17 eyewitnesses and only the 6 who had a vested interest in clearing the officers actually testified. The rest were allowed to write statements, but not answer juror questions. ???]
Another excerpt from the State’s Attorney’s report reads:
The opinion of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner was that a 25 year old Caucasian male ROBERT ETHAN SAYLOR, died of ASPHYXIA. Down’s Syndrome, Obesity, Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease, and Accessory Conduction Pathways of Heart, are also significant conditions…This individual was already compromised by his Down’s Syndrome, obesity, body habitus, and heart disease, making him more susceptible to sudden death in stressful conditions which would compromise his breathing. Using the medical definition of homicide (but for the actions of other individuals Mr. Saylor would not have died), the manner of death is best certified as HOMICIDE>
So here’s where it stands. A homicide is committed (yes, there is a difference between a homicide and murder in terms of criminal liability) but no one will be charged. The investigation that has been conducted is secret and possibly biased anyway. The medical examiner claims that his “Down’s Syndrome” (not the currently accepted grammar) contributed to his death. He was “more susceptible to sudden death” in situations such as being placed face down with the weight of 3 grown men on top of him (a position which law enforcement has been trained to avoid with ALL “suspects.”)
And so #JusticeForEthan came together as a grass-roots movement to press for answers, advocacy, and an unbiased investigation into what really happened that night. It’s based on the assumption that Ethan’s basic human rights may have been violated. (*Yes, in my opinion the definitely were.)