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Maryland police accused of killing Down syndrome man in custody

By Mason White 6:40 AM February 20, 2013
Robert Taylor 

By: Eva Fett
(Scroll down for video) Maryland police officers were accused of killing a man with Down syndrome while in police custody, according to press reports in Maryland.

The death of a man with Down syndrome who was killed after lying face down in police custody has been declared a homicide.
Robert Taylor, 26, of New Market, Maryland, was strangled last month, according to the decision of a coroner last week.

A police source familiar with the case, told a television news station that Saylor choked to death when officers put him face down on the floor.

The incident happened when police were called by employees of a movie theater after Saylor refused to leave the premises. He had gone to the theater with a home health aide, but apparently remained at the theater after the movie was over.

Dr. George Kirkham, a criminologist and former police officer, told a local newspaper that the death of Saylor may have been caused by positional asphyxia.

Positional asphyxia is usually the result of an intense struggle and often involves a person who is handcuffed and lying on their stomach. Kirkham said that people often panic and cannot catch their breath. People with big stomachs are particularly vulnerable, he said, because his belly was thrust in his sternum, it made his breathing difficult.

A police department spokesperson said that the case is still under investigation and that the three officers involved in the death of Saylor, Lt. Scott Jewell, Sgt. Rich Rochford, and Deputy First Class James Harris, were not fired and continue working their normal duties.

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