Seriously, what will it take to get officers indicted?
Once again, a grand jury brought no indictment against three officers involved in the asphyxiation death of Robert Ethan Saylor, 26, who had mental and physical difficulties due to Down Syndrome.
In January of 2013, Saylor was in a Maryland movie theater watching Zero Dark Thirty, which he loved so much he wanted to stay and watch again. He didn’t have the money to pay for another ticket and when he refused to leave, theater workers called off-duty Sheriff’s officers who were moonlighting as mall cops to handle the situation.
What happened next, the officer’s allege, Saylor became verbally and physically aggressive and refused to leave, which prompted the officers to try to forcibly remove the disabled man. Saylor was handcuffed and placed on his stomach for what the officers allege was ‘two minutes’ while they handcuffed him. While Saylor was being removed he stopped breathing and was resuscitated for a short time until he died in a hospital.
During the entire altercation, Saylor’s 18-year-old caregiver tried to warn officers to handle Saylor with care, being that he had Down Syndrome and couldn’t fully comprehend what was going on and that he hated being touched. Needless to say, they didn’t listen.
The medical examiner ruled Saylor’s death a homicide and found the man had died of positional asphyxia and showed signs of unexplained damage to his larynx. Saylor also had a few physical conditions that may have played a factor in his death, but the examiner determined Saylor would have lived had officers not intervened.
No indictments. Not even on a manslaughter charge.
Saylor’s parents said:
[We] are extremely disappointed and saddened and concerned.
I think Jon Stewart summed it up best on his Dec. 4 episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, when he said:
Grand juries almost always do what the prosecutor wants. So maybe we need to look at, when it comes to the police, the prosecutors really don’t want to indict them because they work with them and they need them and they’re on the same show with them. They’re colleagues, and that makes for a very uncomfortable situation.
‘Hey, before I try and send you to prison, there’s something I gotta ask you. Are you my secret Santa?’
After the returned decision for ‘no indictment’ in the Eric Garner case, a homicide by the NYPD caught on tape, it’s becoming apparent that perhaps the system is flawed and the process needs to be refined so there is no conflict of interest between prosecutors and police. Until that happens, we’ll see grand jury after grand jury return decisions not to indict police officers.