Unexplained Injury in Ethan Saylor's Autopsy

BALTIMORE, MD - We've been following the story of Ethan Saylor, the New Market man with Down syndrome who died while in police custody in January.

Now the Saylor family's attorney is discussing an unexplained injury in his autopsy report. 

Saylor died on January 12, after three off-duty Frederick County deputies, working as security guards, were called to Regal Cinemas at Westview Promenade. Last month, after the Sheriff's office investigated its deputies, a grand jury declined to seek criminal charges against them.

"It was a homegrown investigation done by the Sheriff's department on the Sheriff's department by the law enforcement going to a Grand  Jury," says Joseph Espo, the Saylor family's attorney. "It's my understanding that the only witnesses [at the Grand Jury] were the investigating officer and the three deputies."

According to the medical examiner, the cause of death was asphyxiation. The manner was homicide, because Saylor died due to police restraint.

The autopsy revealed Saylor had bruises and abrasions on his face and body. And another injury: a fracture to cartilage in Saylor's throat. Experts say it's an unusual injury to see in a choking case. A forensic pathologist not familiar with case  says the injury happens from some kind of force.

"It can be seen in a manual strangulation, " says Dr. John Hunsaker, a forensic pathologist and expert witness. "But in and of itself, one would be difficult to diagnose without more information. And it can occur as a result of a direct blow."

The autopsy indicates bruising from that fracture, which Hunsaker says makes it likely Saylor still had a heartbeat when it happened.

"Whatever caused it, whatever caused the fracture it was not in the intubation," says Espo "That's not borne out in the EMT records."

Experts say it's hard to know how it happened without an investigative report to show what came into contact with Saylor's throat.

The sheriff's office declined an interview and said the investigative report will be released soon.

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