Twenty-six year old Robert Saylor’s death has been ruled a homicide by a Frederick County Medical Examiner. As with most cases involving death while in police custody, the details on this one are a bit hazy. According to the Huffington Post, all three officers involved are still working their normal assignments.
Saylor was killed one night in January after going to see a movie with his health aide. Theater employees allegedly called the police when Saylor refused to leave after “Zero Dark Thirty” had concluded.
WJLA reports that officers handcuffed Saylor but that they said he resisted. He was placed on his stomach on the ground before he had a “medical emergency.”
The medical examiner determined the cause of death to be homicide by asphyxia.
The Frederick News Post reports:
Positional asphyxia is typically the result of an intense struggle and often involves a person who is handcuffed and lying on their stomach after the struggle. Kirkham said people often panic and can’t catch their breath. People with larger stomachs are particularly vulnerable, he said, because their bellies will push into their sternums, making breathing even more difficult.
A spokesperson from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office said the department is investigating and the three deputies involved have not been removed from duty. Likewise, the State’s Attorney says the case is still under investigations and no decision has been made on whether criminal charges will be filed.
Police departments are frequently criticized for their handling of citizens with mental illness or disabilities. The amount of training officers have in dealing with these people varies from department to department but is often considered to be significantly lacking.
If Saylor had a health aide present, someone he trusted, perhaps the police could have used this to their advantage, cooperating in order to convince Saylor to end the encounter peacefully.
Just what happened that warranted a handcuffing and take-down is unclear. All media reports seem to leave these important facts out. Perhaps when the investigations conclude, we will learn more.
As for Saylor’s family, his mother had this to say: “He just loved unconditionally everybody. He has never had anyone put their hands on him in his life. He would not have been doing anything threatening to anybody.”
If you are ever the victim of police brutality or even harassment, you will likely be facing criminal charges when it’s all said and done. Resisting arrest and disorderly conduct are often-used charges in situations like this, where the police are aggravated by your actions and need a reason to arrest you. Fortunately, you have rights.
Contact our offices today whether you are facing charges of a violent nature or violations of a drug law. We can help.