Family presents 340K petition to governor for investigation

Ethan Saylor died while in police custody.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The family of Ethan Saylor presented a petition to the governor Thursday containing 340,000 signatures in support of launching an investigation into his death.

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Ethan Saylor was a 26-year-old man with Down's Syndrome. He died while in police custody at a movie theater in Frederick. Three off-duty Frederick County Sheriffs working at the movie theater intervened when Saylor refused to leave the theater after seeing the film Zero Dark Thirty.

Saylor, who had an affinity for military and police-themed movies and television, wanted to sit through the film a second time. A scuffle ensued as the three sheriffs wrestled him to the ground in handcuffs.

The three were cleared by an internal investigation although an autopsy ruled his death a homicide by asphyxiation .

"We will miss Ethan every moment of every day," Patty Saylor, Ethan's mother, said. 

Patty Saylor presented Gov. Martin O'Malley's office with a petition Thursday to launch an additional investigation into her son's death.

The governor's press secretary Takirra Winfield issued the following statement in regards to the petition:

"The death of Ethan Saylor is a tragedy, and we are exploring all options to ensure that this never happens to another Marylander again. The Governor had a very good meeting today with Ethan Saylor's family and with an advocate for individuals with Down syndrome.

"This tragedy has already been investigated by the Frederick County Sheriff's Office and a Frederick County grand jury, and there is a third investigation currently underway by the U.S. Department of Justice. So although the Governor is considering an investigation, he is more focused on forward-looking strategies to protect the safety and rights of all people, including those with intellectual or developmental disabilities, and promoting a better understanding of all our neighbors.

"The Governor joins with the many people in Maryland and across the nation to mourn Ethan's loss of life. In the coming days, we will announce actions aimed at improving training for law enforcement personnel and other first responders so that we can do everything we can to ensure this never happens again."

Patty had the support of at least one legislator, Del. Heather Mizeur, of Montgomery County.

"We're talking about a need for the governor and the legislature to engage in determining what are the new statewide protocols that we can put in place to make sure that our police force is capable of responding to a situation like Ethan's without using lethal force," she said.

 

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