Fateful night caught on tape
The final moments of Glenn Russell Behnke's life in Mount Tabor Park were recorded by surveillance cameras at the reservoir.
Seven CDs of footage of the incident that were obtained by the Portland Tribune show the barefoot, 45-year-old transient talking with a private security guard and four Portland police officers before climbing a metal fence and quickly drowning in the reservoir Jan. 16.
The cameras show the officers standing in a group approximately 500 feet from Behnke when he climbs the fence. Until then, Behnke appears to be walking under his own power out of the park where the reservoir is located.
Although the exact point where Behnke enters the water is obscured from view by a pump house, the footage also documents police attempts to locate him in the water and the recovery of his body approximately three hours later.
The cameras were manually operated by an employee of the First Response security company which was hired by the city to patrol the reservoir after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The employee, Stacy Huff, was able to move the camera back and forth among Behnke, the First Response guard and the police who showed up at the reservoir. Huff also was in radio contact with the guard throughout the incident, according to Ross Walker, a spokeswoman for the Portland Water Bureau.
The incident unfolds between 1:10 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 16. The camera first picks up Behnke walking along the path that circles the upper reservoir. His long hair is stringy and unkempt. Although he is wearing a bulky sweater against the cold, he is shoeless. He appears to be carrying a bottle in his left hand.
Behnke initially is spotted by a First Response security guard hired by the water bureau.
As documented by the surveillance camera, Behnke appears to argue with the guard, throwing up his arms at one point before wandering away.
The guard calls the police. Two cars arrive a few minutes later. They search for some time before eventually finding Behnke near the stone hydrochloride building at the southern edge of the reservoir.
After conversing aggressively with the officers for several minutes, Behnke turns and begins to walk north along the main road next to the reservoir Ñ a route that would take him out of the park.
None of the officers escorts or follows Behnke. The camera records the officers talking among themselves and occasionally glancing toward Behnke.
The camera follows Behnke as he passes the stone pump house building at the northern edge of the reservoir, where a First Response car is parked. Behnke pauses as he passes the car, appears to look inside it, then takes a few steps south.
The building obscures Behnke at this point. The camera pans back to the officers, who are still huddled together, and then back to where Behnke was last seen. There is no sign of him, but there appears to be splashing in the water below where Behnke was last seen. The traces of splashing stop by 1:44 a.m.
A minute or so later, the police drive down to the pump house building and begin to look for Behnke in the water. The camera records their flashlights dancing on the surface of the water on both sides of the building.
After apparently failing to find Behnke, the police call for additional help. The camera shows a Portland Dive Rescue vehicle on the scene at 2:22 a.m. The four divers who eventually recover Behnke's body do not enter the reservoir with their air tanks and a rubber raft until 4 a.m.
The divers then row out into the reservoir and descend into the water to search for the body. They drag Behnke out of the water at 4:30 a.m.
Ñ Ben Jacklet and Jim Redden