Police officers won't be charged in airport death of Gotbaum

Posted: Updated:

The following is a press release from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office:

Officers will not face charges

PHOENIX -- County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced today that the Phoenix police officers involved in the incustody death of Carol Anne Gotbaum will not face criminal charges. The County Attorney's In-Custody Death Review Committee investigated the September 2007 death of Gotbaum at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. The committee is made up of veteran prosecutors, including the office's division chiefs.

The committee questioned the case agent from the Phoenix Police Department and reviewed a comprehensive report filed by police. It also examined the Medical Examiner's report, photographic evidence and photographs of a re-enactment, among other evidence.

Gotbaum struggled with officers as she was being arrested for disorderly conduct at the airport. She was handcuffed behind her back. She was placed in a holding cell. She continued to struggle with police and the handcuffs were secured by a chain to a bench. The officer secured the door. Minutes passed and an officer looked in the holding cell to check on Gotbaum. On examination she was unconscious, with the handcuffs moved to the front. Police tried to revive Gotbaum, paramedics were called, and she was pronounced dead.

At the time of her arrest, officers were unaware that Gotbaum allegedly suffered from alcoholism and depression. There was no notice of medical problems provided to the airline or on Gotbaum's passenger manifest from New York. After a review of all the evidence, County Attorney Thomas determined that the actions of the officers do not warrant criminal charges.

Thomas stated, "Mrs. Gotbaum's death, while tragic, does not warrant criminal charges against police officers who were simply trying to carry out their duties. They committed no crime."