Family Sues for $8M in NY Mom's Airport Death

Accidentally strangled trying to escape cuffs in Phoenix holding cell
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2008 5:14 AM CDT
Noah Gotbaum and his children Ella, 7, Tobias, 3, and Nathaniel, 5, right, leave a memorial service for his wife and the children's mother Carol Gotbaum, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2007, in New York.    (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff)
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(Newser) – The family of a New York woman who died in a holding cell at a Phoenix airport is suing the police department and city for $8 million, CNN reports. Carol Gotbaum became agitated after missing a flight last September and cops put her alone in a cell where she accidentally strangled herself as she tried to escape her handcuffs. Gotbaum, the stepdaughter-in-law of a New York City official, had been traveling alone to Tucson to enter an alcohol rehabilitation center.

The lawsuit on behalf of her husband and three young children accuses police of using unreasonable force and treating Gotbaum like "a dangerous criminal, rather than as a sick, intoxicated and vulnerable person." It notes that Gotbaum "had no weapon and never threatened anyone." Police reports say she resisted arrest, and Phoenix officials said officers acted properly and responsibly in restraining her. Gotbaum's death has been ruled accidental.