Governor O’Malley Has the Constitutional Authority to Open an Investigation

NDSC and NDSS ACTION ALERT 

Another Death in Frederick County Maryland – Governor O’Malley Has the Constitutional Authority to Open an Investigation Regarding the Death of Ethan Saylor

The Saylor family and the Down syndrome community are still in the dark about what happened the evening of January 12th, 2013, when one of our own, Ethan Saylor, a 26-year-old man with Down syndrome, died while being improperly restrained by off duty law enforcement officers.

As more information comes to light, we continue to demand answers and accountability from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department (FCSD). We now have troubling details about the FCSD pertaining to another incident that also resulted in death, which is highlighted in a Washington Post editorial piece this week, “Frederick County’s silence cannot be the last word on two deaths.” Although the situations vary greatly – and the 19 year old mentioned in the Post editorial did not have a disability – the two cases raise a multitude of questions about the FCSD’s troubling lack of transparency.  When citizens die at the hands of law enforcement, both the families and the public have a right to know exactly what happened and why.

Although the Attorney General’s office states that the death of Ethan Saylor is a “local matter,” Article 5, section 3(a)(2) of the MD Constitution provides:  

“The Attorney General shall . . . [i]nvestigate, commence, and prosecute or defend any civil or criminal suit or action or category of such suits or actions in any of the Federal Courts or in any Court of this State, or before administrative agencies and quasi legislative bodies, on the part of the State or in which the State may be interested, which the General Assembly by law or joint resolution, or the Governor, shall   have directed or shall direct to be investigated, commenced and prosecuted or defended.”

In other words, if he wants, the governor has the authority to direct the AG to investigate virtually anything “in which the State may be interested[.]”  See generally In re Special Investigation No. 195, 295 Md. 276 (1983) (describing letters from two successive governors to the attorney general directing an investigation into Medicaid fraud). A person appointed under Article 5, section 3 is sometimes referred to as a “special prosecutor.”  See, e.g., Lykins v. State, 288 Md. 71, 85-86 (1980).

TAKE ACTION

How many more people need to die in Frederick County? We need answers! The only way to get a   complete understanding of what occurred so that appropriate measures can be   taken with regard to those involved, is through an independent investigation. The Frederick County Sheriff and State’s Attorney have   already expressed their views that having Down syndrome was   the sole contributor to Mr. Saylor’s death, rather than the security guards’ responses to Mr. Saylor, an individual with Down syndrome.

PLEASE EMAIL, FAX, AND/OR CALL GOVERNOR MARTIN O’MALLEY OF MARYLAND TO DEMAND AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION INTO THE DEATH OF ETHAN SAYLOR.

CALL SCRIPT TALKING POINTS

Governor Martin O’Malley
Toll-Free 800-811-8336
Office:  410-974-3901

  • Hello, I am (state name and where you live). I am a (parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt/uncle, teacher, friend) of a person with Down syndrome. I am calling about Ethan Saylor, a man with Down syndrome who died while at The Regal Westview Movie Theaters in Frederick, Maryland in January.
  • I am requesting an independent investigation into Ethan’s death, so the facts can come out and those responsible can be appropriately prosecuted.
  • The Governor has the authority underArticle 5, section 3(a)(2) of the Maryland Constitution to pursue an independent investigation into the death of Ethan Saylor.
  • While waiting for his support staff to retrieve their car after the movie, Ethan decided he wanted to remain for another showing. He verbalized to the Officers his intent to remain and refused to leave his seat. The Officers attempted to physically remove him from the theater. He was restrained face-down by three plain-clothes officers moonlighting as mall security. Ethan died from asphyxiation from a crushed larynx while handcuffed. His senseless and avoidable death was ruled a homicide by the Maryland Medical Examiner. The Frederick County Sheriff’s Department and The Office of the Frederick County State’s Attorney neglected to conduct a thorough investigation of the facts involving the case. A Grand Jury was convened but failed to hand down an indictment against the officers involved.
  • Despite the Sheriff’s own public comment that the internal investigation has been completed and the officers have returned to full duty, the FCSD refuses to release investigation results to the family’s attorney, despite numerous written requests.
  • Ethan’s death was senseless and entirely avoidable.

EMAIL/FAX TEMPLATE

Governor Martin O’Malley
Email: governor@gov.state.md.us
Dear Governor O’Malley:

I am writing as a (parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt/uncle, teacher, friend) of a person with Down syndrome regarding Ethan Saylor, a man with Down syndrome who died while at The Regal Westview Movie Theater in Frederick, Maryland in January. I am requesting an independent investigation into Ethan’s death, so the facts can come out and those responsible can be appropriately prosecuted.

The Governor has the authority underArticle 5, section 3(a)(2) of the Maryland Constitution to pursue an independent investigation into the death of Ethan Saylor.
“The Attorney General shall . . .  [i]nvestigate, commence, and prosecute or defend any civil or criminal suit or action or category of such suits or actions in any of the Federal Courts or in any Court of this State, or before administrative agencies and quasi legislative bodies, on the part of the State or in which the State may be interested, which the General Assembly by law or joint resolution, or the Governor, shall have directed or shall direct to be investigated, commenced and prosecuted or defended.”

Despite the Sheriff’s own public comment that the internal investigation has been completed and the officers have returned to full duty, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office refuses to release investigation results to the family’s attorney, despite numerous written requests.

His senseless death was ruled a homicide, but the Frederick County Sheriff and Prosecutor neglected to conduct a thorough investigation of the facts and the grand jury refused to indict. The prosecuting attorney’s office refuses to turn the results of the investigation over to the family’s attorney. Ethan’s death was senseless and entirely avoidable.

Sincerely,

[Insert contact information]

 

5 Responses

  1. Jennifer erb Jun 21, 2013 - Reply

    As a mother of a Down Syndrome child I implore you to reopen this investigation to avoid future tradegy

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