Down Syndrome Death Ruled Homicide By Asphyxiation
When 26-year old Robert Saylor went to the movies last month to see “Zero Dark Thirty”, he liked it so much he wanted to stay in the theater for another showing. Saylor, who was living with Down syndrome, garnered the attention of theater managers, who called police when he wouldn’t leave without buying another ticket. The responding officers forcibly removed him from the theater and, in the process, Saylor was forced to the ground and handcuffed. Officers say he suffered a “medical emergency” which required them to remove the cuffs and seek help. He was pronounced dead shortly after.
It is believed that Saylor succumbed to “positional asphyxia”, which can be caused during an arrest if a suspect is forced to the ground and, in a panicked state, struggle and can’t catch their breath. However, sheriff’s office spokesperson Cpl. Jennifer Bailey said in a statement that it’s important for them to gather all the details about the cause of death before moving on with the case. For now, the officers involved are still actively working, but they may be put on administrative leave.
“He just loved unconditionally everybody,” Patti Saylor, Robert’s mother, said. “He has never had anyone put their hands on him in his life. He would not have been doing anything threatening to anybody.”
Saylor said her son had no pre-existing medical conditions that would have contributed to his death.