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Spears is released from UCLA hospital psychiatric ward

February 07, 2008|Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton | Times Staff Writers

Singer Britney Spears was released from a psychiatric ward at the UCLA Medical Center on Wednesday after nearly a week of treatment and later checked briefly into the Beverly Hills Hotel, trailed by a parade of paparazzi, authorities said.

The release prompted an angry response from the performer's parents, Jamie and Lynne Spears, who issued a joint statement suggesting that her freedom posed a threat to her life.

"As parents of an adult child in the throes of a mental health crisis, we were extremely disappointed this morning to learn that over the recommendation of her treating psychiatrist, our daughter Britney was released from the hospital that could best care for her and keep her safe," the statement read.

"We are deeply concerned about our daughter's safety and vulnerability and we believe her life is presently at risk. There are conservatorship orders in place created to protect our daughter that are being blatantly disregarded. We ask only that the court's orders be enforced so that a tragedy may be averted."

The statement came after eight hours of erratic behavior on the part of the performer.

After being released from the hospital, Spears made a brief stop around noon at her gated Coldwater Canyon home.

She then took the wheel of her black Mercedes sports car and headed west.

The paparazzi at times hopped out of their vehicles and surrounded her car in traffic, snapping shots of the 26-year-old pop star, authorities said.

Beverly Hills police went to the hotel about 3:20 p.m. in response to a call "to keep the peace," Lt. Tony Lee said. Police did not stop Spears or detain any paparazzi, and she later drove from the hotel, Lee said.

Spears was admitted to the medical facility Jan. 31 under Section 5150 of California's Welfare and Institutions Code, which greatly restricts the ability of government officials to hospitalize an individual against their will, but allows a person to be held for 72 hours for evaluation.

Spears' hold was later extended to two weeks.

Release in such cases is contingent on a finding the patient is not a danger to herself or others.

A UCLA Medical Center spokeswoman declined to comment, citing patient privacy.

Spears' father and an attorney have been granted temporary conservatorship over her and her estate. Spears' mother, in an application for a restraining order, accused her daughter's friend and sometime manager, Sam Lutfi, of cutting the singer's phone lines, disabling her vehicles and grinding up pills to place in her food. An order was issued barring Lutfi from coming within 250 yards of the pop star.

According to sources, Spears' father filed a grand theft report after the singer was hospitalized, alleging that paintings, jewelry and other valuables had been taken from her home.

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andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

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richard.winton@latimes.com

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