Irving Police Chief Defends Responds to Ahmed Mohamed’s Clock

May 11, 2017

By Patrick McGee, Christine Hauser and Daniel Victor
The New York Times
Friday, September 18, 2015

DALLAS — Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old high school student who was detained and handcuffed for bringing to school a homemade clock that was thought to be a fake bomb, was “overwhelmed” and is now “a little fatigued” from an eventful week, his father said on Friday.

Standing just outside his front door, the father, Mohamed El Hassan, reiterated Friday that his son would not return to MacArthur High School in Irving, Tex. He said that Ahmed had several offers from other schools, including private schools, but that it was not yet decided where he would go.

“He’s not going to go back to MacArthur,” he said. “That’s for sure.”

When asked if the family would take any action against the school, Mr. El Hassan said, “I can’t answer that.”

A spokeswoman for the school district, Lesley Weaver, said in an interview on Friday that Ahmed was still officially enrolled at MacArthur.

The treatment of Ahmed produced a social media whirlwind and attention that reflected national debates about Islam, immigration and ethnicity. Ahmed was soon invited to the White House for an astronomy event on Oct. 19, and he received other invitations and messages of support for his love of inventing and building.

He was detained and photographed while wearing a NASA T-shirt; Mr. El Hassan said he did not know if Ahmed would wear it to the White House.

On Friday, the police chief in Irving, Larry Boyd, defended the officers who detained Ahmed.

He said in an interview on CNN that officers assigned to MacArthur High School had determined “fairly quickly” that the device was not a bomb. Then the issue, he said, was to determine why Ahmed had brought the device to school.

“What they were investigating was whether he brought a device to school with the intention of creating alarm,” Chief Boyd said.

Ahmed, who has professed a love of tinkering, said he had built a digital clock at home and then taken it to school on Monday to show his engineering teacher, who expressed appreciation but advised him not to show it to other teachers.

But the device made a sound in an English class, prompting Ahmed to show that teacher the source of the noise. The teacher commented that it looked like a bomb. The officers assigned to the school were called, and Ahmed was handcuffed, questioned by the police and eventually released to his parents.

Chief Boyd said the officers had not initially been told that Ahmed had brought the clock to school to show to a teacher. In the end, Chief Boyd said, the officers made the best possible decisions based on the information that they had.

The school suspended Ahmed for three days. The Irving Police Department has said that the case is closed and that no charges will be filed.

The episode brought criticism of the police’s actions, along with concerns about why Ahmed had been questioned without a parent present.

Muslim groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, have said the case is an example of the hatred and discrimination that Muslims face in the United States.

Chief Boyd said the department would review its procedures.

“One thing is clear to me,” he said. “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.”