© Katherine Frey / The Washington PostPhotographs of Ethan Saylor as he was growing up adorn a side table in the dining room of Patti Saylor’s home in Mount Airy. With an IQ of 40, he still believed in Santa and would reach out to hold someone’s hand whenever he walked in the rain or on ice, said his mother, a 55-year-old nurse with a special education degree.
He was crying out for her.
"Mommy!" someone heard Ethan Saylor scream as three off-duty Frederick County deputies yanked the 26-year-old with Down syndrome from a movie theater seat and dragged him, struggling, toward the door.
Patti Saylor was already in the car on her way to the Regal Westview cinema after getting a call from her son's 18-year-old aide, saying she was unsure what to do. They had just finished watching Zero Dark Thirty,
and now Ethan didn't want to go home. He had hit a Lenscrafter store's window in protest.
Patti was maybe five minutes away when she called the aide, expecting to hear that Ethan had already calmed down, that the two were fine and eating at McDonald's. Instead, she was told that Ethan was unconscious, not breathing and on his way to the hospital.
Only this week - after the Frederick County Sheriff's Office released long-awaited documents
detailing its investigation into Robert Ethan Saylor
's death Jan. 12 at the hands of its deputies - would his mother read the witness statements describing how her son had called out for her in his last moments.
"I have to stop myself and think he's not experiencing that fear at this moment," Patti said, crying in her New Market living room, where the Saylor family had gathered for their first sit-down interview since Ethan's death. "That's over. That's done. He's not feeling that now."
For six months, the Saylor family has remained quiet, patiently waiting to learn how a young man fascinated with law enforcement died with handcuff marks on his wrists.