NEW YORK – Elected officials and other prominent New Yorkers were among hundreds of mourners Sunday at the funeral of Carol Anne Gotbaum, who died in police custody at an airport in Phoenix.
White lilies adorned the coffin as it was carried out of Congregation Rodeph Sholom on the Upper West Side after the service, which was closed to the media.
Gotbaum, the stepdaughter-in-law of New York City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, died in police custody Sept. 28 at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport. She had been arrested on a disorderly conduct charge after she was kept off a connecting flight that was to take her to Tucson, where she was to enter an alcohol treatment center.
The 45-year-old was married to Noah Gotbaum, son of retired labor leader Victor Gotbaum and stepson of Betsy Gotbaum. The couple lived on the Upper West Side with their three young children.
“This is a terrible, terrible tragedy,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, a family friend who attended the service. “Our hearts go out to Noah especially, and to the children.”
Authorities have said that Gotbaum, who was handcuffed and shackled to a bench, may have accidentally strangled herself.
Gotbaum’s family has hired an attorney to monitor the police investigation into her death, a private investigator who watched the official autopsy and a pathologist who performed a second autopsy.
John Jakobson, another family friend, said Noah Gotbaum spoke of his wife’s final moments during the service.
“Her husband said that if only one person in that airport had helped her, she would be alive today,” he said.
Carol Gotbaum was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and worked as a department store buyer in London before moving to New York with her husband.