Robert Saylor: DOJ examining in-custody death

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the death of a man with Down syndrome who died in police custody while being removed from a Frederick movie theater.

The Washington Post reports Frederick Sheriff Charles A. Jenkins said in an interview Friday that Justice Department officials are investigating the Jan. 12 death of Robert Ethan Saylor. Jenkins told the paper he learned weeks ago by letter of the investigation into whether Saylor's civil rights were violated. Jenkins says he expects that once investigators review the facts they will see that three off-duty Frederick County deputies involved in the incident acted appropriately.

The 26-year-old Saylor watched "Zero Dark Thirty" at the theater with an aide. He then slipped back into the theater without paying and refused to leave.

Police tried to remove Saylor from the theater as his aide warned that her client would "freak out" if they touched or spoke to him.

Saylor died of asphyxia moments later after the deputies handcuffed him as he screamed, cursed and cried for his mother, witnesses say.

The 18-year-old caretaker had been Saylor's aide for about three months before his death.

Critics continue to call for an independent investigation of the deputies' actions after a grand jury's decision in March not to indict them for what the state medical examiner's office has ruled a homicide.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.