At the Phoenix airport in September, 2007, an intoxicated woman was arrested for disorderly conduct. She was traveling alone from New York to Tucson to enter an alcohol treatment center. The claim is filed by her family because on September 28, the woman, Carol Anne Gotbaum, died while in a police holding cell at the airport. The autopsy report done by the Maricopa County medical examiner states that Gotbaum accidentally hanged herself on her shackles and that alcohol and prescription drugs were contributing factors in her system.

The claim is the required beginning of a lawsuit and seeks money for Gotbaum’s husband, children and estate. Her husband is the son of Betsy Gotbaum, a New York City Public Advocate.

It states that on September 28, Phoenix police “…used excessive and unreasonable force on Carol, as if she was a dangerous criminal, rather than as the sick, intoxicated, and vulnerable person she was.” The City of Phoenix replied to this claim with a letter denying that police had done anything wrong, and stating that Carol’s death was an accident. It states in part:

“…the Gotbaum family has publicly admitted, not only that Carol hid her medical and mental condition, but that the officers responded to Carol exactly the way her husband knew they would respond because they did not have critical information known only to the Gotbaum family.”

The letter includes transcripts of phone calls made by Carol’s husband to the airport, in which he expressed concern as to her whereabouts because she was depressed and suicidal.

Painful situations like this happen often, leaving a grieving family wondering how their loved one died, and wanting clear and specific answers. If you have found yourself in a similar situation, having suddenly lost a loved one, please call or email us to set up a free consultation.