Story of Maryland Man with Down Syndrome Who Died in Police Custody Gains National Attention

Family reportedly says 26-year-old was a fan of law enforcement.

In January, 26-year-old Robert Ethan Taylor watched the film Zero Dark Thirty at a movie theater in Frederick, MD, about 20 miles north of Germantown.

At the end of the film, Taylor refused to leave—claiming he wanted to watch it again—prompting theater employees to contact three off-duty Frederick County sheriff’s deputies, according to news reports.

According to a report by The Washington Post, the deputies asked him to buy another ticket or leave, at which point, Frederick County Sheriff’s office spokesperson Cpl. Jennifer Bailey said, Saylor cursed at the deputies and kicked and hit them.

The deputies then reportedly restrained Saylor with three sets of linked handcuffs and removed him from the theater.

The Post story says that what happened next is “the subject of a probe by the Frederick County Bureau of Investigation,” but Saylor apparently showed “signs of medical distress” and was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Saylor’s death was ruled a homicide by asphyxia by the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Baltimore and the story of Saylor's life and death has made national headlines.

Saylor was an ardent fan of the TV program NCIS and idolized law enforcement, according to reports. He also was said to frequently called 911 to ask dispatchers questions and was known to members of the law enforcement community.

Bailey said that sheriff’s office staff members received training to deal with people with mental health issues in 2011, but Cam Overs, a family friend of the victim told the Post “what a fitting memorial it would be if a training module was created in his name, so no other family or police force would have to suffer this pain.”

The three deputies, Lt. Scott Jewell, Sgt. Rich Rochford and Deputy 1st Class James Harris, have been placed on administrative leave.


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