FREDERICK, Md. (WJZ) –Demanding justice. Earlier this year, a Maryland man with Down syndrome died in police custody, and the incident sparked widespread outrage.
Linh Bui explains how the family is now taking action.
The victim’s family is still dealing with grief and anger. They want answers. They want change, and they’re calling on the state to step in.
It’s been eight months since Ethan Saylor, 26, went to the movies and never came home.
“He had such a big personality. Without him here, there’s a really big hole in our life,” said Patti Saylor, Ethan’s mother.
“This is our normal now. There’s always going to be a hole. There’s always going to be a chair here where he won’t be sitting. I will never again have a big brother,” Emma Saylor, Ethan’s sister.
Ethan Saylor, who has Down syndrome, saw the film “Zero Dark Thirty” at a Frederick theater back in January. When it ended, he wanted to watch it again and wouldn’t leave.
Three sheriff’s deputies forced him out.
But in the struggle, his larynx was crushed.
His death was ruled a homicide.
“There has been no explanation of how his injuries occurred,” Patti Saylor said.
Last month, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office cleared the three deputies of wrongdoing, but Ethan Saylor’s family is not satisfied.
“It’s just unreasonable to me to think that any organization can properly do an unbiased investigation of theirselves,” Patti Saylor said.
They’re demanding justice with an online petition.
“We’re hoping that Governor O’Malley or Doug Gansler, the attorney general, can help us with that by opening an independent investigation. But at this point, we can’t do it alone,” Emma Saylor said.
The governor’s office tells WJZ:
“We are aware of and troubled by the death of Ethan Saylor. We have been working with disability advocates to determine what additional steps the state can take to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again, including additional training for local and state law enforcement and a review of statewide policies.”
Ethan Saylor’s aide had warned deputies not to touch him. If they had listened, his family believes he’d be alive today.
“We have to get the truth to know where it went wrong,” Patti Saylor said.
So far, that online petition has more than 200,000 signatures.
If you’d like more information about the petition, click here.