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Husband says kindness might have saved wife at airport

  • Story Highlights
  • "Modicum of sensitivity" might have calmed woman, husband says
  • Source: Medical examiner re-enacts death in airport holding cell
  • Carol Anne Gotbaum died in custody after outburst in terminal
  • Gotbaum had missed one flight, couldn't take next one before becoming irate
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From Alina Cho
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(CNN) -- The husband of Carol Anne Gotbaum, the woman who died in police custody at the Phoenix, Arizona, airport, says a little kindness might have saved her life.

Video shows Carol Ann Gotbaum being arrested at a Phoenix airport shortly before she died while in custody.

"If the airline or the police authorities had treated Carol with some modicum of sensitivity and grace, or one single person at that airport had put an arm around her shoulder, sat her down and given her some protection, she might still be with us today," Noah Gotbaum said at her funeral Sunday in New York.

CNN obtained a recording of Noah Gotbaum's eulogy with the family's permission.

Carol Gotbaum died September 28 in a holding cell at Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport. She apparently became angry after not being allowed to board a flight to Tucson, Arizona, and was arrested.

Surveillance video showed her resisting police who handcuffed her and dragged her away. Video Watch officers wrestle Gotbaum to the ground »

Authorities believe she strangled herself as she tried to maneuver out of handcuffs secured behind her back and attached to a bench in the holding cell.

The medical examiner who performed the autopsy went into the same holding cell where Gotbaum died and had officers handcuff and shackle her in the same position as Gotbaum, a source close to the investigation told CNN.

The medical examiner's height and weight are similar to Gotbaum's, making the re-enactment worth doing, the source said.

Authorities said, following Gotbaum's death, that she might have been drinking, and an attorney retained by her family has said she was traveling to Tucson to check into an alcohol treatment center.

However, the source told CNN that Gotbaum was sober when she arrived in Phoenix, as she sent a series of e-mails and made some phone calls, sounding lucid.

But 46 minutes before the Tucson flight was scheduled to leave, Gotbaum went to an airport sports bar to get something to eat, and may have had some drinks there, the source said. She arrived at the gate one minute after boarding was closed, and was not allowed to board.

Although that upset her, the source said, she did not become irate -- as seen on an airport surveillance tape -- until she was not allowed to get on the next flight to Tucson.


The police report said a man offered to give up his seat on that flight for her, but officials told her he could not do that because it would be considered a security breach.

That may explain why witnesses and authorities said Gotbaum was screaming "I'm not a terrorist" at the time of her arrest. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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