Feathered Bastard

PHX barrister Mike Manning, retained as attorney in the Carol Anne Gotbaum case, calls PHX PD's actions "at first blush, astounding."

Carol Anne Gotbaum, who died in the custody of the PHX PD Friday.

Phoenix attorney Mike Manning, retained by the husband of deceased New Yorker Carol Anne Gotbaum, called the Phoenix PD's actions in the Gothamite's arrest, "at first blush, astounding." Though he hastened to add that the Gotbaum family was not jumping to conclusions regarding the 45-year-old's Friday death in police custody at PHX's Sky Harbor Airport.

"The facts don't square up with common sense," commented Manning. "When you're dealing with someone who's disturbed like this, you don't shackle them to a bench and then leave them alone for anywhere from five to 30 minutes. This was a woman who probably weighed 110 pounds, a mother who has a master's degree, a woman who was crying out for help."

Manning, known for successfully suing Sheriff Joe Arpaio over wrongful death cases in his jails, also expressed shock that someone who was handcuffed behind her back could somehow strangle herself in the manner described by Phoenix police.

"We've talked to some doctors about that, and she would've had to have broken both shoulders and dislocated them to do that," said Manning. "Otherwise she would've had to do some kind of Houdini move. It just doesn't make sense."

However, Gotbaum apparently had a problem with alcohol, Manning admitted.

"She was on her way to a rehab program in Tucson," Manning explained. "I'm assuming she was an alcoholic, though no one's told me that. She made a decision to check herself into that program. I don't know if she's ever been in rehab before."

Betsy Gotbaum, Public Advocate for the City of New York, and Carol Gotbaum's stepmother-in-law.

Manning noted that Gotbaum's family is "very prominent" in Gotham. Gotbaum's stepmother-in-law is Betsy Gotbaum, the Public Advocate for the City of New York, who according to Manning, acts as a sort of Vice Mayor for the city, as well as being the city's ombudswoman. Manning said the family retained him as of last night after researching lawyers in the Phoenix area with expertise in asphyxia cases. He said it will be "a number of weeks" before results are expected from the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's office.

(Gotbaum's autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday, according to the ME. A representative of the family will be present. If there's any preliminary info. released, I'll relay it.)

"We hope to learn more from the autopsy process," stated Manning. "Interview witnesses, and wait for the preliminary results of the police internal affairs inquiry."

The New York Daily News has been all over this story from jump like a tweaker on meth. They have an interesting piece about Gotbaum's family ties, here.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons