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Mother of imprisoned teen files lawsuit

(ran PC, PS editions of PASCO TIMES)

While her son serves a 10-year prison sentence for stealing beer and escaping from a patrol car, Cheryl Bollenback is suing the city of Inverness over a different case.

In a suit filed earlier this month, Cheryl Bollenback claimed an Inverness police officer used unnecessary force while taking her son, Adam, to jail on counts of battery and resisting arrest.

The filing said the arrest caused Adam Bollenback "severe permanent emotional injuries and damages, including aggravations of pre-existing psychiatric, psychological and behavioral conditions."

The arrest occurred in April, while Bollenback was awaiting trial on the charges that eventually landed him in prison. The 10-year prison term inspired significant community discussion, with proponents applauding the sentencing judge for being tough on crime and critics saying the punishment was too harsh considering Bollenback's age (17) and offenses.

The State Attorney's Office did not file charges in the April case, saying the "likelihood of successful prosecution was remote."

According to an arrest report, the events unfolded the afternoon of April 20, when Inverness police Officer Todd Holloway was called to Melody Street and Stately Oaks Drive to investigate a report of juveniles drinking alcohol.

The youths, identified as John Morris and Bollenback, ran away when they spotted the patrol car. Holloway gave chase and eventually caught them, the report showed.

While en route to the Citrus County jail, Morris and Bollenback started banging their heads against the patrol car's cage and windows, the report said.

Holloway pulled into the parking lot of NAPA Auto Parts and removed Bollenback from the car to put restraints on his legs.

Once out of the car, Bollenback began kicking Holloway, the report said. When Bollenback refused to stop, Holloway sprayed him with pepper spray, according to the report.

In the lawsuit, Cheryl Bollenback accused Holloway of falsely imprisoning her child, beating him up and intentionally causing emotional distress.

She said the city also shares responsibility for the incident for employing Holloway.

"Is this police officer fit for duty?" asked Mitchell Feldman, the Tampa attorney who represents Cheryl Bollenback. "Should he still be out there?"

The Inverness Police Department referred all questions to the city's administration. Debbie Davis, administrative assistant for the city, said no one could comment because the lawsuit is still pending.

According to the lawsuit, Cheryl Bollenback is seeking financial compensation in excess of $15,000 for the damages she and her son allegedly suffered.

It wasn't Adam Bollenback's first encounter with the law. The 17-year-old has been convicted of battery on a detention facility staff member, aggravated assault and battery on school staff.

Earlier this year, Bollenback was found guilty of petty theft, burglary and escape after he swiped a six-pack of beer out of a neighbor's garage and briefly escaped from a deputy's patrol car after he was caught.

Circuit Judge Ric A. Howard, saying he wanted to teach the youth a lesson, sentenced him to the 10-year prison term. "This sentence is going to break your spirit right now," Howard said at sentencing.

In an interview Wednesday, Cheryl Bollenback said the April arrest may have contributed to her son's lengthy sentence.

"I think that if you keep going in front of a judge, it looks really bad," she said.

Throughout Bollenback's run-ins with the criminal justice system, his mother has been his staunchest defender and said the April incident was another example of her son being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"He didn't do anything wrong," she said. "That's how it has always been for Adam. They arrest him for nothing."