A woman who died in police custody during an airport layover was intoxicated and accidentally strangled herself, an autopsy released Friday concludes.
The Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office said Carol Anne Gotbaum, 45, of New York, was acutely intoxicated on alcohol and prescription drugs when she died in a police holding room at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Sept. 28.
The medical examiner's office says she died of accidental "asphyxia by hanging," reports WCBS.
Gotbaum had been arrested on a disorderly conduct charge after she was kept off a connecting flight that was to bring her to Tucson, where she was to enter an alcohol treatment center.
Gotbaum was handcuffed and shackled to a bench in an airport holding room. Police have said they followed proper procedures when dealing with her.
Gotbaum was arrested after becoming irate with gate crews who refused to allow her to board a plane. After realizing she missed her flight, Gotbaum used profanity and said, "I'm not a terrorist."
Before her arrest, she was seen on surveillance video running through an airport terminal, bowing abruptly as she appeared to yell and resisting arrest as three officers try to control her. Once handcuffed in the terminal, Gotbaum locked her legs as officers held her by the arms and pushed the still-standing woman through the terminal.
Police said officers took her to the holding room and shackled her to a chain on a bench, where she continued screaming. They checked on her minutes after she stopped screaming, and found her with the handcuffs and chain around her neck area.
Efforts to revive her failed.
A private autopsy paid for by her family has not been completed. Gotbaum's family have accused police of mistreating her.
Audio recordings released by the airport in October showed Gotbaum died more than two hours before authorities notified her husband, who had been calling them for more than an hour trying to get information, reports WCBS.
Noah Gotbaum called the airport's communications center on Sept. 28 at 4:39 p.m., 5:27 p.m. and 6:01 p.m., according to the recordings.
In the later calls, Gotbaum's voice becomes more urgent and irritated and he tells the dispatcher that his wife is "suicidal" and has problems with alcohol and depression, reports WCBS.
Gotbaum is the stepdaughter-in-law of New York City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum.