Following the Ethan Saylor case (updated July 18, 2013)

September 17, 2013

From the NDSS: “Governor O’Malley of Maryland issued an executive order establishing a commission for effective community inclusion of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Maryland. This important Commission will be chaired by Dr. Tim Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics. NDSS and the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) see this as an important step to ensure what happened to Ethan Saylor never happens to another person from the Down syndrome community, however, we still call on the Governor to open an independent investigation into Saylor’s tragic death.”

Read the joint statement on the NDSS website.

July 21, 2013 – Department of Justice announces investigation into Ethan Saylor’s death

Months after the initial story broke, the Department of Justice has announced they will be investigating Ethan’s death and whether his civil rights were violated in the January 12 incident.

Read the AP report here, and the report from Ethan’s hometown news here.

July 18, 2013 – New details from the scene of Ethan’s death, via the Associated Press

According to a report by the Associated Press (read by DSAGSL via the Huffington Post), a new file release on Monday outlines the statement from Ethan’s caretaker and shedding more light on the case from her perspective. The file, which spans 98 pages, also includes statements from 22 different witnesses of the event. Here is an excerpt from the caretaker’s statement, as told by the AP:

The 18-year-old caretaker, whose name is redacted from the documents, wrote that she had been Saylor’s caretaker for three months before he died.


She said Saylor, known to his family as Ethan, had a history of angry outbursts, including one earlier that night. They had already seen the movie once and were outside the Frederick theater when she asked Saylor if he was ready to go home. Saylor began cursing and punched a storefront window, she told police.


Somewhat frightened, the caretaker called Saylor’s mother, Patti Saylor, of New Market.


“Patti told her to just wait him out and his attitude will change,” an investigator wrote in a follow-up interview report.


The caretaker then spoke by phone with another of Saylor’s caretakers. He advised her to leave Saylor in front of the theater while she got the car, giving him a few minutes alone to calm himself. But by the time she returned, Saylor had gone back into the theater and seated himself. As she walked in, a manager was telling Saylor he had to leave the auditorium.

The report goes on to walk through the events of the night that led to Ethan’s death, with the caretaker adding that she asked to officers again to be patient and wait for Ethan to calm himself before speaking with him, but that before she knew what was happening the struggle between Ethan and the officers ensued.

To read the full story from the Associated Press (via the Huffington Post), click here.

Please continue to contact Governor O’Malley of Maryland to stress the need for an investigation into Ethan’s death. Details on how to contact the Governor’s office are listed here.

June 21, 2013 Update (from the NDSS):
Dear Down Syndrome Advocates,

NDSS and NDSC continue to demand answers from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department (FCSD) about the death of Ethan Saylor, a member of the Down syndrome community. We feel strongly that Governor O’Malley has the authority, under the Maryland Constitution, to conduct an independent investigation into the tragic death of Ethan. We also have more troubling details about the FCSD pertaining to another incident that resulted in death.

Please take a few minutes to TAKE ACTION to call and/or email Governor O’Malley and tell him that he has the authority to open an investigation into the death of Ethan Saylor.

(Find info on how to contact the governor, click here)

May 17, 2013 Update (from The NDSC):

The NDSC is continuing to advocate for an independent investigation into the death ofEthan Saylor, a 26-year-old man with Down syndrome, who died while being restrained by off duty law enforcement officers. If you’re not familiar with this case, Ethan was attending a movie at a local theater in Frederick County, MD — a place he visited quite often. When he refused to leave the theater after the movie ended, and while his caregiver had gone to get their car, mall security was called, and Ethan was restrained face-down. The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide, but in March, a grand jury failed to indict anyone inEthan’s death.


NDSC’s Governmental Affairs Director, Susan Goodman, recently met again with representatives from the Department of Justice, as well as with Ethan’s mother, Patti Saylor, and other Maryland advocates.

We’d like to encourage you to sign on to a new petition, which asks Maryland’s Attorney General to launch an independent investigation. You can read and sign the online petition here.


We will continue to work with fellow advocates in the Down syndrome community to develop and distribute a best practices training program for law enforcement and other first responders.

May 7, 2013 Update:
Newly released details from Saylor’s autopsy report have come to light in the past week. According to the medical examiner, there was also a fracture to cartilage in Saylor’s throat, something experts say is an unusual injury to see in a choking case. A forensic pathologist not familiar with case says the injury happens from some kind of force and added that bruising from that fracture was present, making it likely Saylor still had a heartbeat when the injury occured. However, a complete investigation remains the best way to confirm how and when this particular inury, and others, happened in the timeline of events leading to Saylor’s death. You can help push the FBI and Department of Justice to investigate by taking a few minutes of your time to sign the petitions happening at and

In addition to the above updates, NDSS and NDSC recently released an action update outlining efforts from their end – read it here.

As of April 26, 2013
In the past month, you may have heard about the incident that happened in Maryland in January of this year. Ethan Saylor, a man with Down syndrome, had finished viewing a movie at a local theatre wanted to stay and watch the movie again. At the time, his aide had gone to the car and wasn’t there to pay for another ticket. Off-duty officers were called into the situation and restrained Saylor, who sadly passed away in the process.

Although an autopsy report determined Saylor’s death to be a homicide, there have been no charges filed per a decision from a grand jury. The medical examiner cited that Down syndrome, physique and heart disease made Saylor more susceptible to sudden death in stressful conditions that would compromise his breathing.

Advocates across the country are left wondering: Are reports putting Saylor’s death on the fact that he had Down syndrome and not because of the actions of the officers? Petitions and campaigns calling for a private investigation from the Department of Justice have been circulating, and gaining national attention as of late. Advocates, including the DSAGSL, have been taking to Twitter to bring the story to light, using #justiceforEthan to connect their words.

Ethan Saylor

We’ve compiled some of the most comprehensive coverage of the case, from local and national advocates to the Associated Press and Washington Post, and provided links to the current petitions calling for a private investigation in the links below. To see some of the Twitter chatter around #justiceforEthan, see our Storify coverage here.  We also ask you to please take a few minutes of your time to sign the petitions happening at and

Our hearts and thoughts are with the Saylor family during this time, and we will continue to stay up to date with Ethan’s story.

Media coverage of Saylor case:
NDSS & NDSC update 4/23
Washington Post (opinion piece)
Washington Post (as reported by the AP)
Huffington Post
NY Times (opinion piece)