With Britney Spears out of the psych ward and free to run wild, the pop star's parents said they fear for her life.
"We are deeply concerned about our daughter's safety and vulnerability and we believe her life is presently at risk," James and Lynne Spears said in a statement to The Associated Press. "We ask only that the court's orders be enforced so that a tragedy may be averted."
The pop star quietly left the UCLA Medical Center Wednesday afternoon, according to a police official.
"It occurred without any law enforcement intervention, and for the public that's a good thing," Capt. Sharyn Buck told the AP.
But it didn't take long for the paparazzi to find their quarry. Hours after Spears left the hospital, they caught her driving around Los Angeles in her brand new black Mercedes Benz. Video shows more than two dozen paparazzi vehicles merging from four lanes into one as they tailed Spears to the Beverly Hills Hotel, where she met up with her boyfriend, paparazzo Adnan Ghalib.
It's not entirely clear why Spears was released early from the hospital. People magazine reported that a court representative found "no just cause" for the 14-day hold Spears was put on by her doctor Sunday. According to celebrity news service TMZ.com, UCLA doctors determined Spears did not pose a legal danger to herself or to others, so they couldn't continue to hold her against her will.
Spears' release came a day after her mother, Lynne, detailed the pop star's erratic behavior and fragile mental state in court documents. Lynne's declaration was part of a restraining order filed against Sam Lutfi, Spears' sidekick and sometime manager.
In the declaration, Lynne claimed that Lutfi told her he "grinds up Britney's pills," including the prescription drugs Risperdol and Seroquel — both used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder — and "puts them in her food."
On Monday a court commissioner had appointed a physician to evaluate whether Spears is competent to make decisions and put her father in charge of her finances and estate until at least Feb. 14.
Spears, 26, was rushed to the psychiatric ward of UCLA's Medical Center on Jan. 30, accompanied by her parents, Lutfi, boyfriend Adnan Ghalib and a small army of police on motorcycles and in cruisers and helicopters. She was initally taken there for treatment and evaluation during a 72-hour emergency hold, known in law enforcement as a 5150.
In the declaration released Tuesday, Lynne claims that on the night of Spears' committal, she told her doctor that she had taken Adderall, an amphetamine used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Over the past week, Lutfi and Spears' parents reportedly got into multiple scuffles in the hospital over who was in charge of her medical care, according to TMZ. Under the treatment of her psychiatrist, Dr. Deborah Nadel, Spears's stay was extended to a 14-day hold on Sunday, according to People magazine.
Speculation about the pop star being mentally ill has increased since her Jan. 3 breakdown, when she refused to give up custody of her children to ex-husband Kevin Federline. Currently, Spears does not have rights to visit her sons, and in recent months she has missed multiple court hearings in her custody battle.
Over the last year, Spears has been photographed shaving her head in public, furiously attacking a car with an umbrella and swimming in her underwear.