PHOENIX – The stepdaughter-in-law of the city's public advocate, found dead in a police holding cell in Arizona, was a "wonderful" woman and mother, Betsy Gotbaum said.
Gotbaum, the public advocate, spoke briefly to media across the street from her Manhattan building on Sunday, two days after Carol Anne Gotbaum was found in the cell where she had been taken in handcuffs after being arrested at an airport.
Authorities were investigating if Carol Anne Gotbaum choked herself while trying to get free from the handcuffs.
"She was a wonderful mother, she was sweet and kind and loving," Betsy Gotbaum said. She added, "It's obviously very, very difficult for us, we are dealing with it as best we can. My number one focus is those children and my stepson. I hope the press will consider our feelings and please, please, please don't ask us any more questions."
The 45-year-old New Yorker was arrested Friday after a conflict with gate crews who refused to allow her to board a plane, said Sgt. Andy Hill, a Phoenix police spokesman.
Officers handcuffed her and took her to the holding room, where she kept screaming, authorities said. Hill said officers checked on her when she stopped screaming and found her unresponsive.
Hill said it appears Gotbaum may have tried to get out of her handcuffs, became tangled in the process and the cuffs ended up around her neck. A cause of death will be determined by the Maricopa County Medical Examiner.
"She was very agitated and irate and angry," Hill said. "These are the things that led to the disorderly conduct arrest."
Authorities said neither a Taser nor pepper spray was used on the woman.