911 tapes: Airport police hide woman’s death from husband

David Edwards and Muriel Kane

CNN is reporting that 911 tapes from the night Carol Gotbaum died in custody at the Phoenix airport show that her husband was frantically trying to warn airport workers that his wife was alcoholic, suicidal and deeply depressed, but neither the airport dispatcher nor the police told him his wife had died an hour earlier.

“I want somebody who’s professional to be talking to him and not just blow it to him over the phone because I don’t know how he’ll react,” said one individual speaking on the tapes.

Phoenix police insisted to CNN that Noah Gotbaum was not informed of his wife’s death because their protocol is to finish a preliminary investigation before notifying next of kin.

The distraught Gotbaum became disorderly after being told she could not make her flight to a treatment center on September 28. She was wrestled to the ground and handcuffed by airport police, who left her alone in a holding cell, where she was found dead a short while later. Gotbaum’s brother-in-law called her treatment “inhumane.”

Phoenix police initially claimed Gotbaum must have strangled herself while trying to get out of the handcuffs, but the actual cause of death is still unknown.

The following video is from CNN’s American Morning, broadcast on October 12, 2007.