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Caretaker Speaks Out About Movie Theater Death Of Man With Down Syndrome

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Ethan Saylor
Jessica Kartalija 3 Jessica Kartalija
Jessica Kartalija joined the Eyewitness News team during the summer of...
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FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — Demanding answers. A petition calls for an independent investigation into the death of Ethan Saylor. He’s the mentally disabled man who died in police custody in a Frederick movie theater last year. Now, for the first time, we hear from the aide who was with him that night.

Jessica Kartalija has more.

You won’t see this brave young woman’s face on camera but you can hear the pain in her voice as she shares the most terrifying night of her life.

She’s just 18 and was Ethan Saylor’s aide for the last three months of his life. Now hers will never be the same. She joined the Saylor family as they delivered 340,000 signatures to Governor Martin O’Malley asking for an independent investigation into his death.

“I guess what I wanna see is the rights for all special needs kids because I love them. They’re great people,” she said. “I just don’t want this to ever happen again.”

She is nervous about being on camera and this is the first time she’s shared her story with the world.

“I kept telling them, `Why don’t you just let me go in there and give me a few minutes with him?’ I’d just give him a big hug and he’d be right out but they wouldn’t listen to me,” she said.

She says Saylor went right back into the theater to see a movie for the second time, even though he didn’t have a ticket.

“They said he had to leave right now,” she said.

She says security wouldn’t let her in and made her wait in the lobby.

“All of a sudden, I hear kicking and screaming and `Ouch! Mary! Mom! That hurts. Don’t touch me; get off’ and so I run in and I’m crying hysterically and I didn’t really know what to do,” she said.

And what happens next may be the closest we’ll ever hear to what really happened inside that movie theater.

“I see him jumping in the air and screaming so I turn around because I was scared and I turned back around and all of a sudden, they’re on the floor and all the noise–it was just completely silent,” she said. “They have three handcuffs on him.”

She said she followed the ambulances to the hospital.

“About an hour, an hour and a half later, his mom comes out and tells me that he passed away,” she said. “[The world is missing] his caringness and just the chance to be loved by someone so unconditionally.”

Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins didn’t return calls for comment. After the meeting with the Saylors, the governor’s office issued a statement saying the governor is “considering” an investigation but is more focused on training.

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