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No Charges Against Officers In Md. Disabled Man’s Death

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Robert Ethan Saylor

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FREDERICK, Md. (WJZ) — Outrage in Frederick. Three officers will not be charged in the homicide of a young man with Down syndrome who died in their custody.

Kai Jackson has results of the investigation into this controversial death.

When Robert Saylor, 26, refused to leave a Frederick movie theater back in January, it would be the last thing he’d do.

Three off-duty sheriff’s deputies tried to forcibly remove the young man, who had Down syndrome. When they put Saylor in handcuffs face down, he suffered a medical emergency and died.

A grand jury has completed its investigation into the case, and has decided those three deputies will not be charged in the death.

“They felt that no further investigation was necessary to make a decision on the criminality of the deputies’ conduct, and therefore they are choosing not to continue their investigation,” said State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith.

The medical examiner ruled Saylor’s death a homicide, finding he died of asphyxiation. Saylor’s mother says there’s no way her son posed a real threat to the officers.

“He had never had anybody put their hands on him before in his life,” she said.

His death outraged the community. To date, almost 1,200 have signed an online petition calling for criminal charges.

But Frederick County State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith says the deputies followed procedure, and medical complications were a factor in Saylor’s death.

“The individual was already compromised by his Down syndrome, obesity, body habitus, heart disease, making him more susceptible to sudden death in stressful conditions which would compromise his breathing,” Smith said.

In a statement, the Saylor family’s attorney says they are:

“Disappointed and saddened and surprised with the decision. And the inquiry into what took place on that night is not going to stop here.”

During the grand jury’s investigation, they looked at 17 different eyewitness accounts.

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