IN RESPONSE to the outcry that followed Robert Ethan Saylor’s fatal encounter with off-duty deputies in Frederick County, Sheriff Charles A. Jenkins promised “that this agency is transparent and that all the facts will be presented when the investigations are completed.” But the public is still in the dark about how the refusal of this young man to leave a movie theater could end in his death. Now come troubling details about the department’s handling of another incident that also resulted in death. It’s enough to make one wonder who exactly is being protected in Frederick County and whether it’s time for an independent look by outside agencies. The circumstances of the two cases, occurring within days of each other in January, vary greatly, but each raises issues of whether these fatalities could have been avoided had authorities acted differently.
Mr. Saylor, 26, died Jan. 12 of asphyxia after a scuffle with deputies who had asked him to leave a movie for which he had not paid. Mr. Saylor had Down syndrome; his case got widespread attention because it raised questions about how well police are trained to respond to those with mental impairments. A grand jury determined in March that no criminal charges were warranted, but the results of the investigation of the officers’ actions have yet to be released. “The officers involved have been on active duty since April. Why is my family still unable to read the statements of those who sat yards away from our Ethan that day?” Mr. Saylor’s sister asked Sunday in a Post commentary.