Latest police report on Carol Gotbaum's death.
Carol Gotbaum with her three children Ella, Nathaniel and Tobias.
The PHX PD released a doorstop doc on the Carol Gotbaum arrest yesterday, as has been reported elsewhere. There were a few revelations. Gotbaum was on meds for depression. An airline attendant said Gotbaum purchased and drank a bloody mary on the plane flight from New York to PHX, but the woman who sat beside Gotbaum during the flight does not remember Gotbaum having any alcoholic beverage. Gotbaum was weepy on the plane, and told other passengers that she was on the flight to rehab alone because "it was time to be a grown up" (apparently it was her decision to fly solo).
Gotbaum's stepmother-in-law Betsy Gotbaum, the powerful Public Advocate for the City of New York, apparently called the PHX cops to ask if the PD "could use Carol Gotbaum's maiden name, Carol Stiger, in any official reports, so as to insulate her and her family from media exposure." I found that an eyebrow-raiser. That's the sort of request you make when you're a powerful politician, I reckon. But it's also not too smooth, considering the fact that it's unlikely the PD'd comply, and seeing that such a request would inevitably become part of the written record.
Without repeating too much of what's been covered elsewhere, here are a few notable points and oddities:
1) Terri Klepper, the female officer who searched Gotbaum, described putting Gotbaum into the holding cell by stating,
"As I walked her into the cell, she began to pull her legs out from under herself and struggle with us. She kicked her legs out straight and began `walking' up the back of the holding cell. We pulled her away from the wall and still she continued to kick her legs and flail her body. She braced her legs against the bottom of the bench in the holding cell. At this point Officer Fulton bent the back of her knees with his knee in order for us to seat her on the bench."
That image of Gotbaum trying to walk up the wall, Spiderman-like, does convey the idea of how limber and agitated she was, squirming against the officers as they tried to get her chained down in the cell.
2) Gotbaum family friends David and Christine Watson arrived at the airport at the request of Carol Gotbaum's husband Noah, presumably to take custody of her. The Watsons were informed by officers that Carol Gotbaum was dead, this even before Noah Gotbaum learned of it. The report relates that,
"David mentioned Carol began having an alcohol problem 2 to 3 years ago...David knew she had been to two prior rehab sessions, believed to have been held in Connecticut. One was for 7 days and the other was 14 days."
3) PHX PD detectives allowed David Watson to call Noah Gotbaum and inform him about his wife's death via the speaker phone in the Watsons' car as they listened on. The narrative notes, "Noah Gotbaum immediately alleged, `They killed her, they killed her.'"
4) In interviews with a couple of the witnesses, it seems as if the approach of the PHX PD toward Gotbaum escalated the situation. Witness Amanda Caraway, a TSA employee, observed that Gotbaum was "shaking and crying." One of Caraway's female co-workers was able to get Gotbaum to "calm down a little." But as the first police officer came near Gotbaum, Gotbaum began "yelling again and flailing her arms." The officer asks her to calm down, reaches for her arm, and that's when Gotbaum pulls away and they take her down.
Caraway says the officers took pains not to hurt Gotbaum, but I wonder if, in her agitated state, it would have been better just to try to talk her down, give her a few minutes and some breathing space. Monday-morning quarterbacking, sure. But Gotbaum wasn't going anywhere.
5) The transcripts from the communications center are full of the clowning around of this guy named Mike. At one point, he's sort of gossiping with someone named "Booker" who calls in, and Booker's joking about "CSI Arizona" being at the airport. As Mike's explaining where the airport cops "arrested a lady," Booker kids, "Oh! That smelt like a cover up for a minute there."
Later, Mike yucks it up with Lindsay, who tells him Gotbaum's dead:
Lindsay: Everybody left, but they got the body.
Mike: Okay, the body's still there in the office?
Mike: So, I take it she won't be needing her seat on the flight no more?
An unidentified female calls in, and it starts again,
Mike: Hey, she's dead.
Female: What's going on?!!! What happened?!!!
Mike: Well, just what I had. Did you like that? Another day, another code? (Chuckling)
Female: ...(Chuckling)...Just when we finished all our wonderful warm fuzzy AED saves interviews.
The AED comment is a reference to a press release that had gone out from Sky Harbor that day touting how, "Three Phoenix Police Officers and Firefighters from Sky Harbor Station 19 used CPR and an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to save the life of a 68 year old woman..."
Mike just keeps on rolling. Someone asks him how Gotbaum's name is spelled, and Mike cracks, "B-A-U-M, but I don't know if it's G-U-T or G-A-U-T or...But, uh, one thing's for sure, we know she doesn't answer to it any more." Then he tells someone else, in regard to someone trying to page Gotbaum, apparently after she was dead, "She [the caller] just wanted to page her. She sounded all happy about it, but she's not gonna be."
I'm not averse to morbid humor myself. On the other hand, Mike must've known he was being recorded for posterity...
6) Officer Polombo's description of the way Gotbaum's body was discovered is particularly chilling:
"When she became quiet, the arresting officer checked on her and found the chain restraint attached from her handcuff to the bench eyebolt was wrapped across her neck, her handcuffs were in front of her and she was non-responsive."
That's all for now. More when the Medical Examiner's report is out.