Pitiless P-Town

Someone cue Gene Pitney: It ain't pretty, a town without pity. And Phoenix has been that town for the family of Carol Gotbaum, the 45-year-old mother of three who recently pulled a Harry Houdini-like death dance in a police holding cell at Sky Harbor Airport after being popped for disorderly conduct.

Most of you've seen the crappy-quality video of the 110-pound Gotbaum getting arrested by three burly cops and have heard how Gotbaum was headed for the Cottonwood de Tucson addiction-treatment center when she flipped out during a layover at Sky Harbor. The Bird won't snore you with details. If you've been holed up in a copper mine for the past fortnight, check this tweeter's bloggin' bro, Feathered Bastard, who's been on the story like a pair of fishnet stockings on Oscar de la Hoya.

The latest is, Phoenix Police Department spokesman Andy Hill's confirmed there's more video. No duh there, seeing that Sky Harbor has more cameras than Vegas' MGM Grand. Better video would help determine if the bulls were crushing the poor lady with their bulk. Or if they were kinder than lambs.

There's no video of the cell where the hysterical, and possibly inebriated, Gotbaum sat shackled, handcuffed behind her back. She was found sitting on the floor with her head on a bench, handcuffs across her throat. The Maricopa County Medical Examiner's determination on the cause of death is pending.

Gotbaum was arrested "about seven minutes" before 3 p.m., according to Hill. She died at 3:29 p.m. This pecker doesn't believe P-town's finest set out to harm Gotbaum. But someone nabbed for a minor offense isn't supposed to be kaput a half an hour later, self-snuffed by her own restraints.

Too many pitiless P-towners are pointing digits at the deceased, kinda like what Jodie Foster's rape-victim character goes through in The Accused. Here's the popular spiel: Gotbaum was a crazy drunk, and the police can't be blamed. Her privileged family's at fault for allowing her to travel alone. There's even been a schmear of anti-Semitism. One blog commenter, for instance, noted Gotbaum was from "Jew York" City.

This pelican's proboscis has been rubbed in this locally by yokels at the Arizona Republic and on talk-puke radio KTAR, which spews bile and hatred 24/7. KTAR's second-string evening douchebag, Larry Gaydos, did a recent show where it was all about piling on the grieving family.

"The family let this woman down," Gaydork announced, later adding, "They're gonna kick themselves every day because nobody accompanied this woman out to Arizona."

Never mind that Gotbaum family attorney Mike Manning, known for whipping Joe Arpaio's fanny in court on wrongful-death suits in Maricopa County gulags, has pointed out that Noah Gotbaum, Carol's husband, had to stay put and look after their three small kids. Or the plain fact that Gotbaum shouldn't have been able to strangle herself, if that's what happened. This clown Gaydos, like many other P-towners, doesn't wanna hear it.

"Everything looks like it's on the up-and-up," he tutted. "Everything looks like it went the way it should have."

If everything went the way it should've, Larry, Gotbaum would be in Tucson right now, taking the cure.

"I'm surprised anybody would say that," Manning told this magpie. "When you encounter someone who's physically or emotionally ill, and is obviously so, you have a whole different set of responses than you would to someone who's threatening others."

Manning agrees police should've intervened. He disagrees with how they intervened. Manning claimed Carol Gotbaum had been dry for nine days, wasn't going through withdrawal, and was being encouraged by her counselors to travel solo.

"She told Noah, 'You've got to trust me. I've got to do this by myself. It's the first step in my mission to get well,'" explained Manning.

Maybe someone should've flown with Carol Gotbaum. But did she deserve to die because she was traveling alone? Our taxes pay the police to handle a lot tougher situations than a freaked-out female at the airport. The Gotbaum incident should've been easier than a trip to Dunkin' Donuts for the cops.

As for the Repugnant, its editorial reaction was that of a Zona shitkicker stung by the scolding of city slicker tabloids. The daily took Manning to task for earnin' his keep as the family's mouthpiece. Manning "needs to learn the meaning of shame," read the paper's October 4 commentary.

Au contraire, hacks. You've got that shame chapeau on the wrong cranium. Manning's multimillion-dollar wins against the Sheriff's Office have resulted in Arpaio's deadly restraint chairs being discontinued. Manning's yet to take any legal action on behalf of the Gotbaums. But if he does, and if that results in fewer deaths in police custody (like the one last week of the less-well-connected local, Archie Poole, who died after being cuffed by PHX cops), who'll be eatin' the shame hat then?

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons