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The family of a man with Down syndrome who died while in the custody of Frederick County sherriff's deputies was able to meet with Gov. Martin O'Malley today in Annapolis. They are asking the governor for an independent investigation into the man's death.
Ethan Saylor, 26, died when sheriff's deputies restrained him at a movie theater in Frederick last January. He wanted to see a movie for a second time, but had not purchased a ticket when he was restrained.
His death was initially ruled a homicide, but a grand jury refused to charge the deputies involved, and an internal investigation by the Frederick County sheriff's office cleared them of wrongdoing.
Patty Saylor is Ethan's mother, and says the family feels his death is being ignored.
"There is no explanation of how Ethan's fatal injury occurred," she says. "He didn't have a medical emergency and die; he was asphyxiated. His larynx was damaged. There's no accounting for how that occurred."
The Saylor family started a petition on Change.org asking Governor O'Malley to create an independent investigation into Ethan's death. They presented more than 340,000 signatures at the statehouse today.
After a brief delay getting the boxes with those signatures through security, the family was able to meet with O'Malley in his office. After it ended, Patty Saylor said she was satisfied with what the governor said.
"He tried to understand why we wanted an investigation. And he decided at this point he will think about his response," Saylor says. "He indicated prior to our meeting he was not inclined, but after our meeting, he is thinking about whether there is something he can do in regards to an investigation."
It's unclear whether O'Malley has the power to create an independent investigation or whether the state attorney general does. The Federal Department of Justice is conducting a probe into whether Saylor's civil rights were violated.