Frederick County, MD — As TFTP previously reported, three off-duty Frederick County sheriff deputies forced 26-year-old Ethan Saylor to the ground — over a movie ticket — crushing his larynx, depriving him of air until he died. Despite the taxpayers shelling out $1.9 million in 2018, none of the officers were ever held accountable and now one of them has been hired at a neighboring department to screen cops in the hiring process. That’s right, a cop who was involved in the act of killing a young man with Down syndrome over a move ticket, is now presumably in charge of picking the officers who work for the Frederick Police Department.
“There’s a cliche that you can’t assign a dollar amount to a human being’s life, but that is our system, that’s the only remedy we have for justice in our system,” Saylor’s mother, Patti Saylor, said after the settlement was finally reached in 2018. “We’re not comforted by the money as much as knowing we gave our son everything we could, that we stood up for him until we exhausted all avenues for standing up for him. Because his life mattered. What happened to him should not have happened.”
The deputies, Richard Rochford, Scott Jewell and James Harris were all cleared in the death of Ethan Saylor — despite his death being ruled a homicide by asphyxiation. The “investigation” claimed that the deputies could not have expected that the “minimal force” they used would have led to his death.
After being cleared, Rochford, one of the deputies involved in Saylor’s death, retired from the Frederick County sheriff’s office in 2016. Then — despite costing the taxpayers of Maryland hundreds of thousands of dollars — he was quietly hired in 2019 by the neighboring police department as a Background Investigator.
The Free Thought Project spoke to one of Saylor’s former high school classmates who says he’s appalled by the decision of the Frederick Police Department to hire Rochford given his past.
“This hiring was equivalent to spitting in the face of the public. It illuminates the incestuous relationship between the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and the Frederick Police Department and is totally unacceptable,” Saylor’s former classmate, Bryan Williams said.
Williams is now asking folks to call the mayor and chief of police and let them know how ridiculous this decision was.
JUSTICE FOR ETHAN – FIRE RICH ROCHFORDIn 2013 Ethan Saylor, a 26 year old with Down syndrome, was killed by 3…
As TFTP reported at the time, Saylor, a 26-year-old with Down syndrome, was at a movie theater with a health care aide watching “Zero Dark Thirty” in January 2013. The movie had finished, but Saylor didn’t want to leave the theater after the film ended, hoping to watch it again.
The cinema manager, angry that the mentally-disabled man didn’t quite understand that one ticket is only good for one viewing, called three off-duty-deputies who were moonlighting as security guards. The cops decided to forcibly evict Saylor from the theater— refusing to listen to his aide — who had already contacted Saylor’s mother in an effort to defuse the situation.
Arguably, the deputies should not have been allowed to touch Saylor. Although he was refusing to leave his seat, a non-violent and far more effective plan to de-escalate and solve the situation was already underway involving Saylor’s mother. However, this plan was never allowed to happen as the officers saw an easy mark and moved in—quite literally—for the kill.
“In this instance, the officers should not have used any force because they knew that Mr. Saylor’s mother was on her way and would resolve this situation,” the attorney for Saylor’s estate, Jean Zachariasiewicz said.
As is all too common the case, however, the cops did get violent, taking Saylor to the ground and piling on top of him as they attempted to handcuff him. In the process, this young man’s larynx was crushed, and he died of asphyxiation.
As the News-Post reports, while Zachariasiewicz conceded that the officers generally have the right to use force to remove someone from a theater without a ticket, in this situation — when Saylor was posing no threat, clearly had limited understanding of the situation and had committed only a minor offense — it was unreasonable to physically remove him.
The autopsy report indicated that Saylor died from asphyxiation, and had sustained a fracture to his larynx, with the coroner listing his cause of death as a homicide.
In spite of Saylor’s death being ruled a homicide, an internal “investigation” cleared the three officers of any wrongdoing. No charges were brought against any of the officers involved in his death.
Much to the dismay of almost everyone involved in the case, a Frederick County grand jury declined to indict the deputies after their review of the case.
The family was forced to pursue a civil trial instead.
Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking aspects of this case is the fact that Saylor was an avid fan of law enforcement and was reportedly fascinated by police. Some may argue that the cops did not intend to kill Ethan, but the fact that they couldn’t de-escalate a simple situation over a movie ticket, and instead resorted to deadly violence speaks to the lack of training and violent tendencies that are prevalent in policing today.