Thursday, August 21, 2008

Phoenix Sky Harbor Police will not be charged in airport death of screaming hysteric

Finally! The police officers who dealt with a drunk and screaming woman who later died in custody while alone in a holding cell, learn that they will not be charged.

The Phoenix police officers involved in the arrest of an out-of-control passenger at Sky Harbor airport who later died in custody did not break any laws and will not be prosecuted, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas said Thursday.

Thomas said his office reviewed a Phoenix police report into the death of Carol Gotbaum, as well as photographs and a photographic re-enactment of the death and autopsy reports by the County Medical Examiner's Office. The case was looked at by the County Attorney's in-custody review committee, consisting of veteran prosecutors.

Gotbaum, 45, died in police custody on Sept. 28 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after she was shackled and left alone in a holding cell.

Gotbaum's family filed an $8 million claim against the city. According to the claim, the officers who arrested Gotbaum used excessive force, violated her civil rights, improperly shackled her and broke internal police rules.

The county medical examiner ruled that Gotbaum accidentally strangled to death in her restraints. She also concluded that Gotbaum's blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit for driving and that she had taken prescription antidepressants.

The family filed the lawsuit on May 8.

Thomas said Thursday the police officers were unaware of Gotbaum's medical history and saw no signs of problems related to mental illness, and that they did nothing wrong in the arrest or detention of Gotbaum.

Ms. Gotbaum's family sent her on a cross country trip alone knowing full well what her mental condition was. How dare they file suit against the police officers simply for trying to keep the peace? A screaming, hysterical, drunken woman in an airport is disruptive and even frightening to the other passengers. She also attempted to trade tickets with someone when she missed her flight to Tucson. This is not allowed either! I hope the judge dismisses the Gotbaum's lawsuit as frivolous and without merit and then orders the Gotbaum's to pay the legal fees of the city.

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