A Maryland grand jury has decided that police are not liable in the death of Robert Saylor. The 26-year-old man with Down syndrome died while in police custody in January. Medical examiners ruled his death a homicide.
Robert and his aide had just finished watching Zero Dark Thirty at a Frederick, Maryland movie theater. Robert resisted leaving the theater as he wanted to watch the movie a second time.
As reported by the Washington Post, the movie theater requires patrons to pay extra for a second viewing. Robert refused to leave or pay, prompting staff to contact Frederick County sheriff deputies working as security for the mall.
The off-duty deputies responded and report that Robert was verbally and physically combative. According to reports the deputies restrained Robert face-down, with his hands behind his back.
Within minutes Robert displayed signs that he was in distress. Deputies state that when they noticed something was wrong, they immediately called for help and began performing CPR.
Robert was eventually taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Baltimore, Maryland ruled his death a homicide. Doctors state that his Down syndrome and weight, combined with the position he was in, led to asphyxia.
The three deputies accused of causing Robert’s death were placed on paid administrative leave pending investigation.
Despite harsh criticism from advocacy groups, the grand jury has decided that the deputies are not criminally liable for Robert Saylor’s death.
As reported by the Huffington Post, Robert’s mother Patti has stated that her son never would have threatened the officers as he had had a lot of respect for law enforcement. She pointed out that he ” … loved unconditionally. Everybody.”
Although the grand jury has decided that the police will not be criminally charged, many advocates continue to hold them responsible for Robert’s death.