Carol Gotbaum of New York City died in police custody at the Phoenix airport Friday after she was handcuffed behind her back and arrested for disorderly conduct. About 10 minutes after leaving the woman in a holding cell, police found her unconscious and with “handcuffs up by her neck area.” Investigators guessed that she “tried to manipulate the handcuffs from behind her to the front, got tangled up in the process,” and accidentally strangled herself. How could this have happened?
Slate.com explans how. Bringing your arms from behind your back over your head is a difficult maneuver, but it can be done–especially by those who are exceedingly slender, limber, or who have a high tolerance for pain. “We have strong concerns about how this 110-pound woman may have ended up strangling herself, given that she was cuffed behind her back and shackled to a bench,” said Michael Manning, a Phoenix attorney hired by the Gotbaum family. The Arizona Republic said he had successfully litigated three cases involving Maricopa County inmates who have died in restraint chairs. That includes a $2 million settlement for an inmate’s family that was announced in June. The family plans to bring in its own pathologist to attend Gotbaum’s autopsy today.