A 26-year-old man with Down Syndrome was killed in police custody after refusing to leave a movie theater or buy another $11 movie ticket.
A medical examiner in Baltimore ruled that the man, Robert Ethan Saylor, died of asphyxia while in police custody. The death has been ruled a homicide, the Frederick News Post reported.
On January 12, the man with Down Syndrome was forcibly removed from the Regal Cinemas Westview Stadium 16 after he refused to either leave the theater after a movie ended or buy another ticket. He was handcuffed and then suffered what the sheriff’s office referred to as a “medical emergency.”
Cpl. Jennifer Bailey said that Saylor cursed at deputies when they tried to remove him from the theater. The man with Down Syndrome then became medically distressed as officers were escorting him out of the theater in handcuffs, The Associated Press reported.
Saylor was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead.
“In this case, the investigators are still working to determine what caused Mr. Saylor’s death,” a spokesperson said.
Cpl. Gregg Warner, the sheriff’s office’s lead investigator in the case, said he wants the full medical report from the medical examiner.
“We want to make sure we have that before any more statements could be made,” Warner said. “We have formally requested it, but there is a process they have to go through.”
After the man with Down Syndrome was killed, police allowed the officers who made the arrest to remain working instead of putting them on leave. A police spokesperson said the decision was made because of the uncertainty surrounding the man’s death.