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Movie Theater Witnesses Recall Night Md. Man With Down Syndrome Died In Police Custody

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Mary Bubala joined WJZ in December 2003. She now anchors the 4-4:30...
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FREDERICK, Md. (WJZ)— Dozens of people came to a candlelight vigil in Frederick to remember the life of Ethan Saylor. The 26-year-old man with Down syndrome died after being forcibly removed from a movie theater in January.

Mary Bubala has the story.

“I want to thank you all for coming in this vigil to remember Ethan,” a loved one said.

Dozens came to honor him.

In January 2013, the 26-year-old with Down syndrome died in police custody due to suffocation.

Saylor had watched “Zero Dark Thirty” and then refused to leave the theater, so three Frederick County deputies, moonlighting as security, handcuffed and restrained him.

When a grand jury declined to charge the officers, hundreds of thousands signed a petition asking Maryland’s governor to get involved.

Now Gov. Martin O’Malley has appointed a commission looking into whether better training for officers is needed.

At this vigil, many believe that even more needs to be done.

This comes as two witnesses in the theater that day are speaking out. They wanted their identities concealed.

“Eventually they realized ‘This guy is not listening to us; he’s saying the f word.’ And I will say they were very calm about it, just how I expect professional police officers to be,” a witness said.

“One thing I noticed was at that point it kinda turned to where he was obviously scared. I actually thought he had called for his mom,” a witness said.

The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office had no comment.

The Saylor family has filed a federal lawsuit against the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and the movie theater for the wrongful death of their son.

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