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Interview with witnesses; the night Ethan Saylor died

11:14 PM, Nov 21, 2013   |    comments
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FREDERICK, Md. (WUSA9) -- Dozens of people showed up to Baker Park in Frederick to remember the life of Robert "Ethan" Saylor, the 26-year-old man with Down Syndrome who died after being forcibly removed by police at a movie theater in January. 

It's been 11 months since Ethan died, and every day since, his mother Patti has searched for answers. 

Two witnesses are now sharing their story with WUSA9 in an effort to give Patti some of those answers. They'd rather we didn't share their name as they want to stay out of the spotlight, and for the focus to be on Ethan. It's a glimpse into the last moments of Ethan life.
 
The father and son from Frederick were sitting in the same row as Ethan at a late showing of Zero Dark Thirty the night of January 12th. Ethan had seen the film previously that night, and had gone back in to see it again, without a ticket. His aide says she was trying to diffuse the situation, by first getting the car, then by going back inside. She says the theater employees wouldn't let her in to talk to Ethan. 

The father and son say they saw an officer come into the theater and head over to Ethan. Before long, two other officers joined him. They say the officers asked Ethan to leave many times, and that Ethan swore at them. 

 

The father explains what he heard the deputies say, "If you don't leave we're gonna send you to jail.  So eventually they realized that hey this guy's not listening to us, he's saying the F word. And I will say that they that they were very calm about it, just what I'd expect professional police officers to be. But, it escalated to the point when they were gonna make him leave that they were going to force him out." The son chimes in, "So they did. At one point, they started with two guys at first, Ethan was a big guy and they tried to pull him out of his seat. When they got him out of his seat that's when the third guy stared helping them."
 
They say the deputies moved Ethan around the bend. They heard Ethan crying and asking for his mom. 
 
The father WUSA9 interviewed says, "There's a point where you're like something happened now because he's no longer struggling, you no longer hear him whimpering, crying, he's passed out or something."
 
That's when ambulances came to take Ethan away. The movie eventually started. Then, it stopped.
 
The father who witnessed this said, "They came back and said that this turned into a death investigation. We need everyone to take a statement."

 

Both father and son told the police what they saw and heard. A simple trip to the movie theater had turned into a night they'll never forget. I asked if they thought the deputies handled the situation correctly. 
 
The father says, "In general we felt like or at least I felt like the guys were very professional, the police that were there. If this person hadn't been someone with Down Syndrome what they did seemed to be completely appropriate and professional. The only thing that we really had a problem with is that someone who has Down Syndrome seems like they need to have some kind of different training or procedures just to handle it a little bit differently."

WUSA9 reached out to the Frederick County Sheriff's department for comment but hasn't heard back. 

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