An attorney representing the family of Irving, Texas high school student Ahmed Mohamed is demanding apologies from Texas officials for his arrest—as well as compensation in the order of $15 million.
Mohamed, 14, made national headlines after being arrested last September for bringing a homemade clock to school—the device was mistaken for a bomb.
Two letters from the Mohamed family’s legal representation were sent Monday, one to the Irving City Hall, the other to the Irving Independent School District.
The letter to Irving City Hall was a “Notice of Claims and Demand” concerning the “detention, interrogation, arrest, and public mistreatment of Ahmed Mohamed by Mayor Beth Van Duyne, Chief of Police Larry Boyd, and numerous other City of Irving officials.” The 10 page letter explains it is “to provide the City of Irving with formal notice regarding the events of September 14, 2015, involving Ahmed, in which several Irving Police personnel, acting in league with numerous others, deliberately disregarded and violated Ahmed’s rights under 42 U.S.C. §1983, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Texas Juvenile Justice Code, Irving ISD’s policies and procedures, and Texas tort law.”
The letter alleges that the Irving police are guilty of several counts of misconduct, that the City of Irving attempted to affect aspects of the incident by making Ahmed seem responsible for the misunderstanding, that Mayor Beth Van Duyne—when appearing on the Glenn Beck show—created a “completely false impression about Ahmed and his family,” and that Police Chief Larry Boyd attempted to misrepresent the appearance of the clock to the media.
The Mohamed family is seeking a written apology from Mayor Van Duyne, a written apology from Police Chief Larry Boyd, and “Ten million dollars as compensation for the damages Ahmed suffered at the hands of the City of Irving and its employees.”
The Irving School District received a similar, nine-page letter, accusing “several Irving ISD personnel” of violating Ahmed’s rights under the same statutes posed in the City Hall letter. The demands made of the school seek a written apology from Irving ISD “acknowledging that Ahmed Mohamed never intended to threaten anyone, and that his detention, interrogation, and arrest were wrongful and were made at a point in time when there was no reasonable suspicion to believe that Ahmed had committed a crime or was about to commit any crime,” and compensation in the order of “five million dollars.”
The story has taken many twists and turns.
During the initial stages of media coverage, there was an outpouring of support from several well-known figures—one in particular being the President of the United States—who invited Ahmed to a White House Astronomy Night.” Mohamed also appeared on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore:
As for alleged disparagements and accused deeds of misconduct, these are issues a jury will decide—but the complainants have not been kept away from the media during the time between the arrest and the issuance of these letters.
Mayor Van Duyne has already been caught changing an opinionated Facebook post, and discussing the case with local media—in a news video package also featuring Heath Wester, President of the Texas Municipal Police Association, who stated Ahmed’s “intent was to see how far he could get with the device, and to see what kind of ‘alarmant’ he could get….and as you can see now, he’s got what he asked for…He’s gotten that ‘alarmant,’ he’s gotten that excitement, or whatever he was trying to get, he got it.”
Mayor Van Duyne had already found herself at odds with some members of the Muslim community in Irving when she, with significant media coverage, backed the Texas “American Laws for American Courts” legislation, which specifically banned judges from “applying foreign or international law in place of federal, state or local laws”—an act that was already illegal—and has been construed by some as anti-Muslim in spirit, due to frequent references to Sharia Law during the enactment of this legislation.
Police Chief Larry Boyd has since stated that his department will “review its procedures,” telling the New York Times:
“One thing is clear to me…Regardless of what we did, no matter what decision was made, there would’ve been people who agreed with it and people who disagreed with it.”