Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I Call BS: Update on Carol Gotbaum

posted by The Sailor @ 6:05 PM Permalink

Back story here.

While I've seen a lot of conflicting news reports, I didn't feel I had enough new facts to report about Carol Gotbaum's death in police custody. It wasn't until today that I could assemble additional facts.

The Maricopa County ME's office refused to wait until the family's pathologist could attend the autopsy, and then refused to allow the brain, the heart and the neck to be examined. Their excuse is that they were 'too busy.' The PHX PD is also breaking the law, the Arizona Open Records laws regarding releasing arrest info. And they continue to lie:
According to the statement issued by Sgt. Andy Hill[...] Officers at Terminal 4 left Gotbaum shackled and alone in the holding room because they did not believe she was a danger to herself or to others, the standard used to determine whether a detainee should be under constant watch.
So she was enough of a threat that 3 officers made no attempt to talk to this 45 year old, 105 pound woman, but instead did a full takedown, cuffed her, dragged her to a holding cell while she was 'kicking and screaming', but didn't 'think her a threat.' Jeebus! What the hell do they do to folks they think are a threat!?

Here are links to the Phoenix PD statements and eyewitness accounts, (scroll down about 1/2 way for a full transcript of the eyewitness accounts), that appear to contradict the PHX PD.

COOPER: Mel, did you think she was a threat to anyone? I mean, did you feel threatened?

PITTEL: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. She was coherent. She wasn't vulgar. She said -- she was -- she was relatively -- very steady on her feet, actually. She wasn't weaving. She didn't appear to be drunk or anything like that. She just was very demonstrative.

COOPER: You thought the police response was, what, excessive?

PITTEL: Very excessive. They rushed in and grabbed her and threw her down. Nobody ever said anything to her, "lady, hey, calm down. Take a breath. Can I help you? What's wrong?" anything like that.

Witness Harmon described Gotbaum's arrest in more detail:

One of the officers ran towards her and grabbed her, and then the two other officers came up, and they -- one threw her to the ground, and then they -- it was as if they were tackling her. One of them pulled their arm -- her arm behind her with extreme force. I thought that they were going to -- or they had separated her shoulder. It looked very, very forceful.

Anyway, and then they -- in all of this, somebody -- one of the officers leaned down and pressed on her back. And then all of them were on her almost like they did a football tackle hold, and they got the -- they got the handcuffs on her. And then an officer came up to us and said, "move it along. Move it along. This isn't anything for you to witness or for you to see." And so we reluctantly walked away.
'Nothing to see here, move along or we'll arrest you too', lucky for her that she did, since at the time she didn't know they were referring to arrest as in cardiac or breathing.

Here's some video narrated and edited by the PHX PD that doesn't show anything they don't want you to see.

Not that I sense a pattern or anything but just a few days after Ms. Gotbaum stopped breathing and died in police custody the PHX PD managed to have another person stop breathing and die while being 'subdued.'

But hey, it's not like they have a history of such things ... oops, yes they do, and of losing a lawsuit that the ME's office helped cover it up:
Manning, a prominent Phoenix lawyer who won an $8.25 million wrongful death settlement against the county sheriff in 2000, said the medical examiner's office has been biased in the past when investigating law enforcement officials.

"The relationship between the medical examiner's office and the police is so close. It's professional, it's social. We're concerned about that relationship influencing the integrity of the autopsy," Manning said.

In the 2000 lawsuit against the county, Manning claimed that sheriff's deputies suffocated a jail inmate and the coroner covered up evidence of a beating. Sheriff Joe Arpaio denied the allegations and federal authorities later dropped an investigation into Manning's allegations of excessive force, saying there wasn't enough evidence.
and the standard response by PHX PD? You guessed it:
Police spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill said officers followed established policy while detaining Gotbaum.
The same old 'we vas chust following orders' defense.

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At 7:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post confuses two entirely separate law enforcement agencies. Manning's $8.25 million settlement was with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office; the arrest of Carol Gotbaum was made by the Phoenix Police Department. Although the two agencies serve the same metro area, they are distinct and each should be judged on its own actions.

At 9:26 AM, Anonymous Bill Arnett said...

There is another possible explanation. For decades people thought pythons and other constrictors, as they're called, simply kept tightening their squeeze every time it exhaled until its prey suffocated.

Then they did some closer studies under x-rays and realized that not only was breathing restricted, but that the intense pressure was enough to STOP THE HEART of their prey and thus stop all blood flow. Death follows quickly.

Three big officers, one of them squarely on her back over her heart area, a cessation of blood flow with a later catastrophic degree of stress could very well have operated to kill this woman.

That would be involuntary manslaughter, at least.

My heart goes out to the family.

At 11:17 AM, Blogger The Sailor said...

anonymous; If you'll notice, the 'yes they do' link goes to the PHX PD, the point of the second one was not the lawsuit against Maricopa CO, but the complicity of the ME's office in covering up a death.

I could have been more clear.

At 12:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" When police officers found Gotbaum, she was slumped on the floor of the holding room, the report says.
Her head was on a bench. Gortbaum's handcuffed hands, including the 16-inch chain between each cuff, were under her chin and across her throat, the report says.
With the help of officers Bucholtz,was handcuffed from behind and a leg iron from the holding room's bench latched to her arm. She also had pictures taken.
At the Oct. 2 autopsy, Bucholtz saw marks on Gotbaum's right bicep, which were consistent with police holding her upper arm during the arrest, the report said.
Bucholtz didn't see any dot-like hemorrhages that could be a sign of choking or strangling. She also didn't see any fractures and things in Gotbaum's airways, the report said. The medical examiner did find a mark on Gotbaum's neck that was consistent with the leg shackle from the bench. "
I'm having difficulty envisioning this, and from my perspective it doesn't make sense.

At 3:22 PM, Anonymous Bill Arnett said...

"Anonymous" commenter number 3: No one, apparently, bothered to inquire about the circumstance of excessive weight on this woman's body, which may have easily contributed to her death due to the pressure of weight of the three officers.

There is a reason that vital organs, like the heart, have not been turned over, as they may tend to show that undue and intolerable physical pressure applied to this poor woman by insensitive, intolerable, and poorly trained security representatives of airport security may have caused her death.

Personally, after fifteen years of professional bounty hunting, during which I returned several hundred absconds to actual custody, I take great pride in the FACT that no one was ever injured. If I could not arrange the "bust" so that no one would be injured, I would hit them on a different day in a different way that guaranteed no one got hurt.

That's because my employer would NOT pay for my health care, because he expected me to "work 'em smarter, not harder," in order to avoid injury.

That's why when I set up a bust it went down so hard and so fast that it minimized the possibility of injury to me, the bail-jumper, or the local law enforcement officer. I take a great deal of pride in this area, as it has never been my intent to hurt anyone, my intent being the enforcement of the written contract voluntarily entered into between the bail agency and the accused. NO AMOUNT of bail money could influence me to hurt anyone, and every bail agency that enlisted my services was made aware of my very firm policy: no one ever gets hurt.

It worked for me and I didn't even have the indicia of official authority, just a contract between parties that vested in me the right to arrest and return bail absconds to actual custody.


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