Months after he killed Trenton Booker in a drunken driving hit-and-run crash, Richard Bolling said he had a letter of sympathy delivered to the 13-year-old’s family’s South Side church.
Trenton’s parents didn’t remember the note in which the veteran Chicago Police officer expressed regret for the “pain and sorrow” he caused and how he has continuously prayed for Trenton since the May, 22, 2009 tragedy.
But on Tuesday, they heard Bolling’s tearful apology – in court – before he was sentenced to three years in prison for leaving the scene of the wreck at 81st and Ashland.
“I do and always deeply regret the tragic accident I was involved in,” Bolling said as tears gathered in his eyes.
Bolling, 42, also must serve two years of probation following his release from prison for his aggravated DUI and reckless homicide convictions. As part of his community service, Cook County Judge Matthew Coghlan ordered Bolling to talk to high school students and police academy recruits about the dangers of driving while intoxicated.
Bolling was suspended from his job after his arrest. The city is moving to fire him.
Coghlan described the case as “sad and difficult” because of the heartache and loss endured by two “good” families.
He chastised Bolling for failing to stop and render aid to Trenton and said the officer most likely drank more than he admitted on the stand during his January trial. But Coghlan also said Trenton was at fault for bicycling northbound in the southbound lanes of Ashland at 1:30 a.m. on a school night before he was hit by Bolling’s Dodge Charger.
“He shouldn’t have been there. In my mind, his own recklessness contributed to his death,” the judge said. “But he’s a child and the defendant is an adult. Whatever he was doing, he certainly didn’t deserve to die.”
Trenton’s father, Terrence Booker, said he was “stunned” by the relatively short prison sentence but said he was glad Bolling was not solely given probation. “At least we know he’s not going home tonight,” Booker said.
Mother Barbara Norman, who went to the same high school as Bolling, said, “I don’t think any sentence would make a difference because it’s not going to bring Trenton back.”
Both of Trenton’s parents said they believed Bolling’s apologies were sincere and agreed Coghlan had a point when he rebuked their dead teenage son.
“It’s unfortunate. But I agree. I hope that a lot of adults, as well as children, realize that there are consequences for their choices and some of those consequences you can’t turn back on,” Norman said.
Booker said had his son not snuck out of the house that spring morning, he might still be alive.
“Stay home. Wait your turn. You’re gonna be a big boy,” Booker said, offering advice to other rebellious teens. “ . . . Do what your parents say. You can’t go wrong.”