Documents: Woman Who Died At Airport May Have Ordered Liquor On Flight

Thursday, November 1st 2007, 7:12 am
By: News On 6

PHOENIX (AP) _ A woman who died in police custody during an airport layover as she was headed to an alcohol rehabilitation program may have ordered liquor on her flight, according to new witness accounts.

The accounts were included in more than 200 pages of documents released Wednesday by the Police Department's homicide unit, which investigated the Sept. 28 death of Carol Anne Gotbaum.

While the documents illuminate new aspects of the case, authorities still do not know how Gotbaum died. The Maricopa County medical examiner is waiting for laboratory results before issuing a final report.

Gotbaum, 45, of New York, had a layover at Sky Harbor International Airport during her trip to Tucson, where she was to enter a 30-day rehab program.

Authorities said she was arrested for disorderly conduct after she became irate when denied boarding to her connecting flight. She later died in a holding cell.

Sgt. Andy Hill, a police spokesman, said the homicide unit finished its probe and that it appears officers acted appropriately.

``All of the witness accounts say that the police did what they had to do,'' Hill said.

However, an internal investigation into the officers' conduct isn't complete yet.

The newly released documents show conflicting reports about whether Gotbaum was drinking before she was arrested.

While a member of the flight crew recalls serving Gotbaum a cocktail in the plane's galley, a passenger told authorities she didn't see Gotbaum drink alcohol.

Gotbaum was taking medications to battle depression, according to police interviews with an investigator hired by her family.

Michael Manning, an attorney who represents Gotbaum's family, downplayed the drink Gotbaum may have had on the flight, noting that witnesses disagree about it.

The family, which has accused police of manhandling Gotbaum, has hired its own team of experts to investigate the case.