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Jury returns verdict in Ostling case, split decision for city of Bainbridge Island, family awarded $1 million

TACOMA - An eight-member jury has partially sided with the city of Bainbridge Island in the police shooting of a mentally ill man in October 2010 on Bainbridge Island.

The jury found the shooting justified, but awarded the family a total of $1 million.

The jury in the Ostling family's federal civil rights lawsuit returned with their verdict early Friday afternoon. William and Joyce Ostling filed a suit against Bainbridge Island Police Officer Jeff Benkert, the city of Bainbridge Island and Police Chief John Fehlman last year, claiming that their constitutional rights had been violated when police answered a 911 call at the Ostlings' home on Springridge Road.

Benkert and fellow Bainbridge Police Officer David Portrey went to the Ostlings' home after Douglas Ostling called 911 and started yelling at a 911 dispatcher.

When the officers went to investigate the 911 call, William Ostling led them to his son's apartment door above the family's garage. Doug Ostling then confronted the two officers with a double-bladed ax, and was shot by Benkert after he refused to drop the ax.

The lawsuit alleged that Benkert unlawfully searched Ostling's apartment, used excessive force in shooting Ostling, and failed to offer aid after Ostling was shot.

The Ostling family and their supporters were present for the verdict. They filled two rows of benches in the courtroom, sitting directly behind Nathan Roberts, the lead attorney for the Ostlings in the lawsuit.

Benkert and Portrey were also present. They spent much of Friday morning waiting outside the courthouse cafe, one floor below the courtroom.

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