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Settlement offered in Phoenix airport strangling case

  • Story Highlights
  • Carol Anne Gotbaum's children are expected to receive a $250,000 settlement
  • Money comes from insurance company on behalf of police and city of Phoenix
  • Gotbaum accidentally strangled herself while in police custody
  • Woman was taken into custody after acting erratically at airport
By Adam Reiss
CNN
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- More than two years after her death, Carol Anne Gotbaum's children are expected to receive a $250,000 settlement from an insurance company on behalf of the city of Phoenix, Arizona, and its police department.

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

Carol Gotbaum, shown in an undated family photo, died accidentally, a medical examiner said.

The 45-year-old Gotbaum accidentally strangled herself while in police custody after behaving erratically in a terminal at Phoenix's Sky Harbor airport when she missed her connecting flight, according to both family and police accounts.

Gotbaum, the stepdaughter-in-law of New York City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, was traveling alone and unescorted on her way to an alcohol rehabilitation center in Tucson, Arizona.

Gotbaum's family had originally sought $8 million but subsequently reduced that to $5.5 million. They accused the city and its police department of negligence in leaving Gotbaum chained and unattended in an airport police cell.

Her three children, all still under age 10, will be the beneficiaries of the settlement once it is approved by a New York surrogate court, whose duties are to deal with issues concerning the deceased.

According to the Phoenix Police Department, its insurance carrier had spent $500,000 so far on the case and anticipated spending another $750,000 in litigation. It was a financial decision by the insurance carrier to settle in order to minimize further costs, the department said.

Witnesses reported that Gotbaum may have been drinking on her flight and had been drinking heavily in an airport bar just before the altercation with police. She had missed her connection and was bumped from another one after airline personnel would not allow her to use a boarding pass given to her by another passenger. She grew incensed, threw her phone and started running down the concourse yelling, "I am not a terrorist," according to witness accounts.

Police said they had no information regarding her physical or psychological state when they responded to a call from gate agents. In a security video she is seen struggling with officers as they drag her down a concourse.

An internal police investigation and one by the city found that the police did not violate any laws. But Gotbaum's husband, Noah, filed suit claiming the officers were negligent in leaving her unattended in a disoriented state.

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