HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) – The parents of a man with Down syndrome who suffocated as three sheriff’s deputies tried to remove him from a Maryland movie theater filed a federal lawsuit Thursday, alleging Robert Ethan Saylor “died a violent, terrifying, and painful death” due to negligence by the theater and deputies.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. It alleges the Frederick County deputies fractured Saylor’s larynx during the struggle last January, making it difficult for the 26-year-old, 294-pound New Market man to breathe.
The damage to a piece of cartilage attached to Saylor’s Adam’s apple was not explained in the autopsy report. Attorney Daniel Karp, representing the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, speculated it may have occurred during the difficult insertion of a breathing tube by paramedics. Karp said there is no evidence the deputies applied force to Saylor’s neck at the Frederick theater.
“This was an accident, but a tragic one,” he said.
Besides the deputies, who were moonlighting as Westview Promenade security officers, the complaint targets Regal Cinemas Inc., of Knoxville, Tenn.; Hill Management Services Inc., the mall’s Timonium-based operator; the sheriff’s office and the county.
A theater manager summoned the deputies because Saylor hadn’t paid for a second viewing of “Zero Dark Thirty.” The deputies wrestled him from his seat and onto the floor despite warnings from his attendant that Saylor would “freak out” if they touched him, according to witness statements.
Attorney Patrick McAndrew, representing Lt. Scott Jewell, Sgt. Rich Rochford and Deputy First Class James Harris, declined to comment on the lawsuit. He stressed that the deputies were cleared by a Frederick County grand jury in March.
Representatives of the other defendants did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press.
The uproar over Saylor’s death has triggered a civil rights investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. In September, after meeting with parents Patricia and Ronald Saylor, Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley created a commission to recommend training standards for first responders in dealing with people with developmental disabilities.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Telecommuting: 5 tips to make it work for employers and employees
- See how top CFOs feel about economic growth in the Valley
- Migraine myths that keep patients from effective treatments
- Here’s why Gaydos went tankless with his water heater
- 12 things to watch before the Oscars
- Bocce ball and basketball: How you can help Arizona's Special Olympics athletes
- Tips on building the best wine room in Arizona
- Avoid the nightmare: 6 tips to choose a great contractor
- Breast cancer: Improved testing and treatments means more survivors
- Best and worst of Super Bowl commercials
- Failed back surgery: New hope for patients living in pain
- Ticking time bombs: Telltale signs your water heater is about to explode
- Reading glasses could be a thing of the past
- 6 cool ways teachers are using technology in the classroom
- Emerging tech jobs in Phoenix and how to get one in 2017
- 4 top treatments athletes use for pain
- Emergency! What to do when bathrooms flood
- Operation Santa Claus needs holiday help
- This college bowl season is likely to be epic
- Arizona kids in crisis: How you can help
- 11 holiday classics for the ultimate movie marathon
- New treatment offers hope for migraine sufferers
- 11 stadiums to watch your favorite football team
- Shopping for a TV? Best models for 2016
- The new beer pairing guide for holiday foods
- Avoid this holiday plumbing disaster in your home
- 7 tips to avoid holiday weight gain
- New treatments mean better prostate cancer survival rates
- 5 of the scariest things found in drains
- 6 tips to create the best family movie night