Phoenix airport fatality

The NY Daily News has this story about a woman who was arrested in a Phoenix airport and then later was found dead in the holding cell (more coverage is found here).

So, how could this happen?

The media reports state:

PHOENIX -- A 45-year-old woman who was in police custody after being arrested for disorderly conduct in a Phoenix airport terminal died in a holding room while apparently struggling with her handcuffs, police said.

Carol Ann Gotbaum, 45, left alone in the room, was possibly trying to break free from the handcuffs when she got them entangled around her neck, said Sgt. Andy Hill of the Phoenix Police Department.

First, if the woman was in a holding cell, why was she still handcuffed?  Ok, maybe there was some reason for that.  I don't see it, personally.

Second, a 45-year old woman, who was handcuffed, got her handcuffs "entangled" around her own neck?  This doesn't pass the smell test.  Why doesn't it pass the smell test?

She was handcuffed behind her back, Hill said.

The woman was handcuffed behind her back.  When you handcuff a person behind their back the palms are facing outwards.  This further limits the mobility of a persons arms.  I doubt even a contortionist could get their wrists up and over their head, but, a 45 year old woman?  Hardly.

While anything at this point is pure speculation, the story, in and of itself, is just not viable.  Something has been left out.  

In another diary, I documented that the use of pepper-spray alone didn't contribute to the cause of death when used in many instances.  However, when pepper-sprayed and hogtied in a prone position, that did contribute to death.

We'll have to wait for the coroner report, however, I would not be surprised to learn that the woman had indeed been sprayed while handcuffed and in her holding cell.  I also wouldn't be surprised if, after being sprayed, she became more agitated, was put prone on the floor and sat on (which would be just like being hogtied).

I have said I will defend officers when they do right... but, this sounds to me like this woman was put into a bad situation by the officers and then the officers made the situation even worse... to the point the woman died.

This is something I will not accept or defend if, in fact, this is the case.

< A couple seasonal notes | Obama begins his offensive against Hillary. >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Video released from airport... (none / 0) (#1)
    by Michael Gass on Thu Oct 04, 2007 at 08:50:59 PM EST
    One important note... the Gotbaum defense was not allowed to examine throat, heart or brain during autopsy.

    Even an FBI profiler states what I have... he just cannot envision how this woman choked herself to death.