Thursday, October 04, 2007
Your thoughts on Phoenix Airport death?
Tonight we want to hear from you. During the program we'll ask a question after our lead story, which right now is the investigation into the death of a woman in police custody at the Phoenix Airport. Today police released, for the first time, an extensive account of the circumstances surrounding the death of Carol Anne Gotbaum, including video of her arrest.

After you see the video, tell us: "Do you think police used excessive force?"

We'll post your responses on the blog, and read a few at the end of the hour.
Posted By CNN: 7:22 PM ET
  34 Comments
WHY DIDN'T CAROL ANNE GOTHAUM HAVE A RELATIVE/FAMILY MEMBER TRAVELING WITH HER TO THE REHAB? I KNOW WHEN I TOOK MY SON TO A REHAB 19 YRS AGO HE WAS IN A VERY FRAGILE STATE.
Posted By MARILYN WILLIAMS; FT LAUDERDALE, FL : 8:04 PM ET
I don't know if the force was excessive outside the holding room, I mean I have seen alot worse then that from the police,

but what happened inside the holding room is another matter.

I just can not figure out how someone could "accidently" strangle themselves in the way they authorities said it happened.
It's very suspicious!!!
Posted By Morgon : 8:11 PM ET
I have seen the video and heard all of the descriptions from people who witnessed it and it seemed to me like she was having delusions or something! I mean people who are detoxing sometimes have them. And she was headed to rehab for alcoholism.

I just can't see how someone with their hands cuffed behind their backs can end up "accidentally" strangling themselves! Has the police released any info telling exactly how the chain was to her neck? How was it pressed into her neck if her arms were behind her or had she gotten her arms around her legs and wrapped the chain around her neck? I think alot more is there that needs to be told before we can make any assumptions!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Cindy : 8:33 PM ET
At the end of the day, a woman is dead, the police are being accused in the media and court of public opinion of that death and not one of us AC360 viewers knows the absolute truth.
If excessive force caused her to suffocate, that would indeed be tragic. No one can rewind what happened, but hopefully they will determine Carol Anne's cause of death and put into place concrete policies that will prevent another person from a death caused by resisting arrest. My thoughts go out to her family.
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 8:38 PM ET
It is difficult to see what happened in that video, and we don't know what was said, but there doesn't appear that excessive force was used to arrest Ms. Gotbaum.

That said we don't know what happened in the holding cell. If she was acting that irrationally she should never have been left alone.
Posted By Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 10:08 PM ET
After watching the tape of Ms. Gotbaum's detainment in the airport it did not seem the officers were using excessive force. It looked as if she was in great distress and the fact that she died a short time later is tragic. My thoughts are with her family.
Posted By Pamina, New Rochelle, NY : 10:10 PM ET
Security acted appropriately. It's a tragic death of an obviously incoherent alcohol or drug addict. My heart goes out to her parents and family.
Posted By Carolyn : 10:17 PM ET
It is a shame this woman had to die. However, if I were at that airport during this incident I would hope the authorities would act the way they did - it was in no way excessive.
Posted By PM, Charleston SC : 10:18 PM ET
In watching the tape it appears that the police did what they could to calm her down and I didn't see anything that looked like excessive force. In her agitation and if she had been drinking she may have unwittingly strangled herself. Hard to imagine but perhaps tragically possible.

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Annie Kate : 10:20 PM ET
The videotape does seem to vindicate police actions
more in their removal of the lady. With her fragile state and the resources of the famiy, why wasn't a
companion sent with her to get to rehab?
Posted By Ruth Esserman, Chicago, Il. 60606 : 10:22 PM ET
Hi Anderson, I saw the video, and I don't think the police used excessive force. Having said that, I think the focus should be on what happened in the holding room because this is where she died. They say that it is their policy to have no cameras in that room...but are they just saying that as a convenient excuse to not show evidence? This part of the story is very unsettling to me.

Thanks for taking our feedback,

Lilibeth
Edmonds, Washington
Posted By Lilibeth, Edmonds, Washington : 10:23 PM ET
Speaking from my own experience, the Phoenix airport TSA are the rudest, most combative and yet alarmingly inconsistent airport security service I have personally experienced. Judging from the videotape, law enforcement appeared to handle the situation in a proper manner. What went on behind closed doors is another matter.
Posted By Anonymous : 10:24 PM ET
Excessive force begs the issue - why was this troubled woman traveling alone? This wasn't forseeable by other family members? Her husband admits that she was suicidal, but he is somehow unable to accompany her on this trip to rehab? Sorry, the object of contempt here isn't the police (who I thought from the video showed restraint); the Gotbaum family should be doing some heavy soul searching instead.
Posted By Randy, New York : 10:26 PM ET
While the holding cell procedures may be lacking, the responding officers did their jobs well. As a frequent traveler, I appreciate the need to respond quickly yet appropriately in an airport setting. I feel that the video shows exactly that.
Posted By Chuck in Glen Ellyn, IL : 10:29 PM ET
It looks from the video like the police did not use excessive force on Ms. Gotbaum. It is clear from her behavior that soemthing was seriously wrong with her. If she was experiencing alcohol withdrawal, that might explain her agitation. In addition, alcohol withdrawal is dangerous, and can be fatal. Based on what we know so far, I don't think she was in the right mental or physical condition to travel across country alone.
Posted By Clarissa Perkins, Wallingford, CT : 10:30 PM ET
I think the Phoenix police should have continued talking with Carol using some psychological ploy instead of lunging at her. Their actions, as they turn out, made the situation worse. The behavior of the police only triggered an uncontrolled reaction
Posted By Anonymous : 10:31 PM ET
Where was Carole Ann's family, as she went alone to a rehab. facility in Tucson? If her husband was so concerned about her, I find it very sad that he wouldn't accompany her until she was safely at the hospital. Most alcoholics suffer from depression/mental illness, and on her previous flight it was reported she was disruptive. If paramedics were called, maybe they could have helped her. My prayers for her.
Posted By Anonymous : 10:32 PM ET
It's obvious to anyone that this women is extremly anxious for some reason. Even if the police did not know specifically about her personal issues did they try to ascertain if there were medical reasons for her behavior or just throw her in a cell and let her scream ? There is probably more to this story then just there cold behavior. And please dont blame the family they have been through enough and it wasnt there fault.
Posted By Anonymous : 10:33 PM ET
I'm a Phila Police Officer. Its getting hard to do your job when arrest is on tape and you still get "Bonehead" calling up using words like "Slam" & "Football Players on Her Back". Come on. This job is like a lose, lose, lose situation. Next time give her the cuffs, point to the lady, and say go ahead, handle it. Let's see the outcome. God Bless Our Brothers who lost their lives today. Once again, some idiot takes 2 lives of working men, and gets to be Mumia's friend sitting behind bars for years. What a System. What a System.
Posted By Anonymous : 10:34 PM ET
I must say the the arrest of Mrs. Gotbaum was so startling because of the HUGE officers pressing her down as if she was armed and dangerous. What is the matter with those men that they felt so threatened by a woman shooting off her mouth. And now that she has died under suspicious circumstances they blame her? I don't think so!
Posted By Susan Helene : 10:34 PM ET
It doesn't appear to me that the police used any sort of excessive force on the woman in the clip played on 360. I believe the police were playing it safe because there were other passengers around at the gate and they probably didn't want anyone to be harmed by this lady. They did what they had to do to get this lady into custody to prevent her form harming herself or someone else. I think we just have to wait for the autospy results to find out what really happen that day in the Phoenix airport. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family.
Posted By Kristen, Kansas City MO : 10:37 PM ET
Excessive force begs the issue - why wasn't there anyone accompanying this troubled woman on her trip? Had she never previously manifested such behavior or the potential? Her husband admits that she was suicidal, but he or a surrogate won't deliver her to rehab? I don't get it....the object of contempt here shouldn't be the police (who in the video showed restraint); sorry, but I'd be pointing fingers at the Gotbaum family instead, who should be doing some heavy soul-searching during these difficult days.
Posted By Randy, New York, NY : 10:37 PM ET
In watching the video I see a very small woman being arrested by 4 very large policeman. While I saw no excessive force, I wonder if just the combined weight of the arresting officers did internal damage that could have killed her. I find it hard to believe she could get in a position with her hands cuffed behind her back to strangle herself but I suppose anything is possible. I think the holding room activities are the most questionable and its unfortunate we don't have a tape for that. In this sad event I hope the autopsy gives a definite cause so her family will know what happened. My thoughts go out to them for their loss.
Posted By Suzanne Pratt, Knoxville TN : 10:38 PM ET
The police officers handled the situation well. I could see no hints of excessive force. The officers just wanted to subdue a crazed, struggling woman as quickly and as carefully as they could. Perhaps she should have been restrained in a different fashion or not left alone, but how were they to know she would do such a thing. I highly doubt foul play, and applaude the way the officers handled her apprehension. This is a sad situation that no person is at fault for.
Posted By mgray : 10:38 PM ET
The video shows a traveler out of control, or under the influence or suffering a breakdown.
The video does not show any excessive force by the authorities.
It is obvious that while she was in the cell, she continued her out of control behavior.
Nobody deserves to die, but please, stop assuming that she was forced or abused during that period.
Where was the family while she was traveling to a rehab?
Posted By Anonymous : 10:40 PM ET
After watching the video of this arrest, I feel that the police officer’s actions in the arrest were not excessive and that they were completely appropriate. It is obvious from the video that Mrs. Gotbaum is disturbed; being a public nuisance and that she is resisting arrest. The fact that she would go into an airport and use the word terrorist in any sense of the word, would cause suspicion and a need to subdue her. In my opinion, the police acted in an appropriate manner. The tragic part of this whole story is not why this woman acted in the fashion that she did or what the details surrounding her arrest are, the tragic part is that a family has lost a loved one and for that, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Mrs. Gotbaum.
Posted By Jessica, Bourbonnais Illinois : 10:40 PM ET
The video is very low quality, but from what i could see it looks like excessive force was used. Many things about this does not add up to me. Why was she left alone if she was as upset as the police stated? Why did they take the handcuffs off and put shackels on her? How could a person strangle themselves? Why wasn't a coroner the family had contacted allowed to examine vital organs? In my opinion this was murder and it is being covered up.
Posted By Lori : 10:44 PM ET
Yes,they we're to rough. I think when people appear emotionally distressed or disturbed, the police should be firm but gentle and speak in calming voices. Saying relax, take it easy, don't fight us, it's ok, we're gonna help you. Humans are wired for fight or flight.
Posted By Patti Norris Chicago, IL : 10:47 PM ET
Why was she travelling alone? Aside from the questions regarding what happened at the airport, there seems to be a large part of this story that is missing. Like why was she denied boarding in the first place, what set off her alleged rant, why was she alone, where was her family or escort to her rehab center?

I'm not in the position to judge if excessive force was used or not. It looks to me that what is acceptable force for a 200lbs. man would be excessive for a 110 lbs. woman. But I guess that is a matter for the lawyers and police to figure out.
Posted By Jeanie, La Jolla, CA : 10:53 PM ET
This is an incredibly heartbreaking story with the saddest of endings. My heart goes out to the Gotbaum family. I’m so sorry beyond words. It’s hard to even express.

Just when this dear lady was on her way to try to courageously change her life for the better too.....there are no words. It’s obvious from her photo she was a very beautiful and sweet lady.

I’m truly not an expert but with sadness I followed through watching the video when the eyewitness described what she saw too. I respectfully realize the CNN expert felt they did not use excessive force, but it also also seemed to look as the kind eyewitness described too. It’s hard to give an opinion.

In any case something terrible happened, a tragedy.

Our thoughts and prayers go to poor Mr. Gautbaum. For any of us that have followed behind a hearse with our dear loved one – we all know the utter shock and pain of that heartrending drive…you just can’t believe its happening. You drive along and see other people having a normal happy day and you just wish everyone would stop for a moment as you drive by – and realize that it’s the worst day of your life. You go through it like you are in a daze – complete shock. My heart goes out to Mr. Gautbaum.

I keep Mr. Gautbaum and their family in my deepest prayers as I’m sure millions of others are too. ….I’m so deeply sorry.

In deepest sympathy,

Gina by the Sea in Canada

(2 Corinthians 1:3-4) . . .Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those in any sort of tribulation through the comfort with which we ourselves are being comforted by God.
Posted By Gina by the Sea in Canada : 10:56 PM ET
Yes, I think they went a little too far. There's a difference between hostile and distraught. These officers are trained to handle different situations, but they look here as though they are just taking the easy way out.
Posted By Anonymous : 1:10 PM ET
I would need more facts about what happen in the airport. Also,why wasn't someone traveling with Carol Ann. Is this something that has happen in the past.
Posted By Anonymous : 1:15 PM ET
Hellooooo! I've been around drunk people who've started their hair on fire, threw up on car seats, fell down steps, and eaten things I won't even mention. Its sad and I do feel for the family, but if she were clean and sober none of this would've happened.
Posted By Anonymous : 1:39 PM ET
This is without a doubt a real tragedy. For the family to lose this young woman and for the airport police who had to handle a person who was obviously in an emotional crisis. There does not appear to be any malice with the conduct of the police involved however policy should be updated to include appropriate procedures for handling individuals who show a mental problem (not leaving them alone would be a good start)
Posted By Anonymous : 2:03 PM ET
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