A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed after police detained a Muslim teen in Texas when officials at his school thought the clock that he had made was a bomb.
Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, the father of Ahmed Mohamed, sued the Irving Independent School District, McArthur High School principal Daniel Cummings, and the city of Irving, Texas, for unspecified damages after his then-14-year-old son was detained and suspended from school in a case that made national headlines in 2015. No charges were filed against Ahmed.
The lawsuit accused the school district and police of discriminating against Ahmed because of his race and religion, thereby violating Ahmed’s civil and constitutional rights.
But US District Judge Sam Lindsay, of the Northern District of Texas, dismissed those claims, saying Ahmed and his family didn’t offer any concrete evidence of discrimination. Lindsay was appointed by then-President Bill Clinton.
Other than “speculative statements,” the elder Mohamed didn’t offer any facts to demonstrate that the school district or any employee “intentionally discriminated against (Ahmed) based on his race or religion” compared with “other students involved in similar disciplinary situations,” Lindsay wrote in the ruling.
The lawsuit claimed the Irving police violated Ahmed’s constitutional rights when officers questioned him without his parents present, but Lindsay dismissed those claims as well.
Detained and questioned
The case made international headlines in September 2015, when Ahmed took a handmade clock to school to show his teachers.
One of them thought it was a bomb and notified school authorities, who called police. Ahmed was detained, questioned and hauled off in handcuffs. At the time, the school said it reacted with caution because the contraption, with wires visible, could have been an explosive device.
But it wasn’t. It was just a clock.
In a whirlwind of publicity fueled by social media — #IStandWithAhmed became a trending topic on Twitter — then-President Barack Obama invited the teen to the White House, and a foundation offered him a scholarship to study in Qatar. Ahmed and his family later moved to the Middle Eastern nation.
Before filing the lawsuit, Ahmed’s family said it wanted $15 million and an apology from Irving’s mayor and police chief.
At the time, the attorney representing Ahmed’s family said the teen suffered severe psychological trauma and that his “reputation in the global community is permanently scarred.” Sources of the trauma included an online blog post that superimposed Ahmed’s face onto a famous image of Osama bin Laden, a “Clock Boy” Halloween costume on a website and harassment suffered by the teen’s siblings, the attorney said.
Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed can file an amended complaint by June 1, Lindsay ruled.
By Doug Criss