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The family of Ahmed Mohamed, the teenager arrested after bringing a homemade clock to school in September, is demanding $15 million and several apologies, their lawyers announced Monday.
An attorney for the family wrote in letters published by the Dallas Morning News that they want $10 million in damages from the city of Irving, Texas, and $5 million from the local school district.
"Ahmed's reputation in the global community is permanently scarred," read both letters to Texas officials, which were sent Monday and elaborated on details from the incident.
As many as seven adults interrogated the 14-year-old, who was pressured to sign a statement saying he intended to bring a "hoax bomb" to the school, according to the letters, which threaten a civil lawsuit if their demands are not met.
The family has also asked for a written apology from the city's mayor and police chief for the incident, which drew international headlines and an outpouring of sympathy on social media.
Ahmed, who has relocated to Qatar with his family after accepting a scholarship, visited the White House last month for an astronomy event where he briefly met President Obama.
The family's attorney said Monday in one of the letters that the family is living in Qatar "for personal security reasons" but wants relocate back to Texas "when they feel safe again."
Mohamed, a freshman at MacArthur High School, insists he repeatedly asked officers to call his parents while being interrogated. Mohamed was questioned at the school, then taken in handcuffs to a juvenile detention center, where he was fingerprinted and interrogated without his parents present, according to police and Mohamed. Texas Family Code is clear this was not supposed to happen. “A child may not be left unattended in a juvenile processing office and is entitled to be accompanied by the child’s parent, guardian, or other custodian or by the child’s attorney,” Section 52.025 (PDF) states. Mohamed did not see his parents until he was released from a juvenile detention center, according to police and his family. Furthermore, a “person taking a child into custody shall promptly give notice of the person’s action and a statement of the reason for taking the child into custody, to the child’s parent, guardian, or custodian.”
Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd said he did “not have answers to [that] specific question” when reporters asked him Wednesday why Mohamed was not allowed to speak to his parents.
The executive director of the Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said that answer is not good enough. “Once they’re being questioned, they have a right to refuse answering,” Terri Burke told The Daily Beast. “And, unless it’s something like a traffic violation, [police] immediately need to release the child to their parents.” At the very least, Mohamed should have been able to speak with his parents. “If a child seeks to have a short conference with his parents, [the police] cannot deny them that. He has a right to talk to them. Kids don’t lose their rights because they’re kids or because they live in Texas.”