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Oops! The Bainbridge Island Police Killed Britney Spears’ Stalker

February 26, 2012

Doug Ostling's Mother with His Photo (Seattle Times)

Doug Ostling was picked up by the police on the grounds of Britney Spears’ Los Angeles home in the early 2000s and taken in for psychological treatment. Tragically, at age 43 Ostling wouldn’t be offered such mercy in his own hometown. After moving back from Los Angeles to an apartment above his parent’s garage in idyllic Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride away from Seattle, Doug was starting to get his life together. He had converted to Judaism and learned to speak Hebrew. He was a smart guy, but by many accounts he was also a schizophrenic. On the night of October 26, 2010, Doug made an unhinged call to 911. Instead of helping Ostling – or better yet, just leaving him alone – the Bainbridge police shot him and let him bleed out while his parents begged for them to get some help.

Ostling’s 911 call was largely incoherent: “What are you!” “What is that!” “Are you intelligent?” he said. Dutifully, the cops showed up at the Ostlings door and Doug’s parents said they had not made the emergency call, perhaps it was Doug. As the couple, who built the home in 1968, led the officers around back to Doug’s garage apartment, they told them that their son had mental problems.

Doug had always been a bit of an odd duck, but in 2001 when he had insisted that Britney Spears and a model were “on their way to pick him up,” his parents got him professional help. The next year they were declared his co-guardians. Soon thereafter, Doug disappeared, eventually showing up in southern California on Britney Spears’ property.

The cops should have not been surprised to hear about Doug’s fragile mental condition as the dispatcher had already conveyed that the caller was in a state of “excited delirium.” The Bainbridge Police had, in fact, been to the house a year earlier in response to a “strange behavior” complaint and when hearing Doug scream on the other side of the door for them to leave, they did just that.

Similarly this time, Doug yelled for the cops to get off his property. But, of course, they did not leave. Still there, Doug protested that the cops had “nothing intelligent to say.” Truer words, of course, were never spoken. Officer Dave Portrey, did not even know what “excited delirium” was. He would later tell a lawyer that “he was unfamiliar with that section of the manual.” When asked to define “excited delirium” the officer said: “Where a person was — I believe it’s attracted to a — shiny objects.”

While Dave Portrey is not exactly the brightest light in Eagle Harbor, he did manage to get hired by the Bainbridge Police Department. It’s a heartwarming tale of redemption, for no other police squad would have him. Amazingly, Portrey failed the written entrance exam at essentially every major law enforcement outfit in the state of Washington. Yet, despite being clearly unqualified, he managed to parlay a volunteer position in Bainbridge into the job of a  provisional officer … which is to say that Dave Portrey was given all the authority of a commissioned officer. Dave Portrey now had a gun.

Portrey was accompanied on this call by Jeff Benkert, a three year veteran of the BIPD. Benkert had formerly been at the LAPD. He resigned from there only because he was on the verge of being fired for lying about an investigation. Basically, he had claimed to investigate a hit and run accident, when he had, in fact, essentially done nothing. To compound his negligence, he went on to lie to his superiors about it. Fully informed in the details of Benkert’s dishonesty and neglect of duty, the Bainbridge Police Department gave him a job and a gun, too.

These are the two men at Doug Ostling’s door.

Despite the pleas of Doug Ostling, the cops refused to leave. Portrey reportedly said,  “I explained to him that I wasn’t going to leave until we had an intelligent face-to-face conversation.”

Jeff Benkert pulled the trigger. On Facebook a week later he would write, "Bad guy should have listened better."

Again, all the cops had to do was turn around and get back in their car. Members of their own department had done it before. They were dealing with a schizophrenic who was holed up in his own room. No one was in danger.

Instead, they escalated the situation. Having obtained a key from the boys parents, Portrey opened the door where he was greeted with the site of the terrified Doug clutching an axe to his chest. When he didn’t drop it on command, Portrey tasered him. Shortly thereafter, Officer Benkert shot three bullets, hitting Doug in the leg. In the melee, the door closed, leaving Doug on one side and the police and Doug’s parents on the other. To compound the massive incompetence that caused this senseless shooting, the officers then refused to let Doug’s parents help him, or even look through a window and see if he was okay. The officers refused to let an ambulance get him out. Instead, they doubled-down and called in a SWAT team. Over the next excruciating hour and fifteen minutes, Doug bled out and died.


Read more about the story in The Seattle Times. It is the source of the information in this post.

Check out the initial report in the Bainbridge Review where the police chief Jon Fehlman misrepresented several of the main facts surrounding this case. According to The Seattle Times, during  Fehlman’s deposition “he was grilled him about the story he’d told the media. Fehlman blamed underlings for feeding him bad information. When he learned of the inaccuracies, he alerted city officials in a private session, Fehlman said. “Did you ever go to the press and say, ‘I gave you a false report?’ ” [the lawyer] Connelly asked. “No,” Fehlman said. The police chief said he did not believe he was ethically obliged to correct his account to the public.”

Watch Richard Thompson do Britney Spears justice. Too bad there was none for Doug Ostling.

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