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(CBSDFW.COM) – Attorneys representing Ahmed Mohamed and his family want an apology and $15 million in damages after his arrest in September.
The former MacArthur High School freshman was accused of bringing an item that looked like a bomb to school. It turned out to be a clock.
The attorneys have sent letters to both the City of Irving and Irving ISD (read below), demanding $10 million and $5 million respectively, for the way the incident was handled earlier this year. They claim 14-year-old Ahmed has suffered severe damages as a result of his interrogation and arrest at the school. They also point the finger at Irving’s Police Chief and Mayor for the way they portrayed Ahmed to the media once the story gained international interest.
“The entire public apparatus from two different governmental units made so many conscious, deliberate decisions to ignore somebody’s rights,” Ahmed’s attorney. Kelly Hollingsworth, told CBS 11.
Hollingsworth claims that both the school district and the police department violated Ahmed’s rights, which led to a chain of events that ultimately forced the family to move out of the country to Doha, Qatar. The family wants to return to Irving, Texas, when they feel safe again, but Hollingsworth says the threats that drove them overseas have already started flooding in to their Plainview law offices.
“They’re saying because it’s un-American, we’re fighting our own country,” Hollingsworth said. “We’re fighting the government of our own country, on behalf of, quote, unquote, these foreigners.”
Several hardships are spelled out in the nine-page letter to the school district and ten-page letter to the city, which states, “Ahmed’s reputation in the global community is permanently scarred.” Among the damages his attorney’s claim include: Ahmed’s face being super-imposed onto a famous image of Osama bin Laden, Ahmed being portrayed as a clock boy on a Halloween costume website, and Ahmed’s address being tweeted out, which forced his family to leave their home.
CBS 11 showed the letters to Forth Worth attorney Jerry Loftin, who said, whether you feel for the teen or not, his letters to the city are nothing more than a shakedown.
“They’re just trying to put a number thinking that they can bluff somebody into something,” said Loftin. “Cities don’t bluff, nor do police forces.”
In the days after his arrest, support poured in from across the world for Ahmed. President Barack Obama invited Ahmed to attend the White House and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and a NASA scientist also voiced their support. The hashtag – #IStandWithAhmed – was trending on the day of his arrest.
The week of the incident, an Irving ISD spokesperson said the district supported Ahmed’s English teacher’s action when she confiscated the homemade clock.
“A teacher heard beeping in her classroom, and then this device was brought to her. So, what she saw was a case with exposed wires and a timer attached to it,” said Lesley Weaver, director of communications for the Irving ISD. “She did the right thing. She followed the correct procedures. She involved the school resource officer and school administrators.”