Saturday 1 October 2016

Police chief says 'officers knew homemade clock wasn't a threat' despite arresting Muslim teen

David Kearns

Published 18/09/2015 | 13:55

Ahmed Mohamed (14) poses for a photo at his home in Irving, Texas Credit: Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News
Ahmed Mohamed (14) poses for a photo at his home in Irving, Texas Credit: Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News

The police officers who arrested a Muslim teenager over a homemade clock knew the device was not a bomb but decided to interrogate him anyway, says Texan police chief.

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Ahmed Mohamed, whose arrested made headlines across the world, was marched from MacArthur High School in Texas in handcuffs this week after he presented a homemade clock to teachers – one of whom alerted school officials to the possibly it could be a bomb.

The 14-year-old science enthusiast was interrogated by officers for more than four hours and was told he could not call his parents to tell them what was happening.

Read More: 'Cool clock, want to bring it to the White House?' - Obama issues invitation to teen arrested after his homemade clock was mistaken for bomb

Having come under fire for his men’s actions, Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd revealed his officers had taken the student into custody despite knowing he presented no threat.

"The officers pretty quickly determined that they weren't investigating an explosive device," he told MSNBC.

“What their investigation cantered around is the law violation of bringing a device into a facility like that that is intended to create a level of alarm.

“In other words, a hoax bomb — something that is not really a bomb, but is designed and presented in a way that it creates people to be afraid.” 

Host Chris Hayes pointed out however that Ahmed had repeated told officers his device was a homemade clock and had presented it to his teachers and classmates as such.

"But he never called it a bomb, right? He just kept calling it a clock. I mean, it never came out of his lips, he never did something or started showing it around saying 'Look at this bomb I have,” he said, noting that the school was never evacuated, nor any member of the force’s bomb squad called to check the device.

Mr Boyd responded: "There definitely was some confusion and some level of information that didn't come out immediately."

Ahmed Mohamed, 14, thanks supporters during a news conference at his home Credit: Brandon Wade
Ahmed Mohamed, 14, thanks supporters during a news conference at his home Credit: Brandon Wade

"The officers made the decision they did with the information they had with what they thought was right at the time. We are clearly going to review this. We want to always look at ways we can enhance and have a better outcome."

Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne, who backs a state ban on Sharia law, has also defended the decision to take the teenager into custody.

"I do not fault the school or the police for looking into what they saw as a potential threat," she said.

"They have procedures to run when a possible threat or criminal act is discovered. They follow these procedures in the sole interest of protecting our children and school personnel...”

Read More: Ahmed Mohamed: Teenager arrested for homemade clock says 'I have lost my innocence'

Ahmed, who dreams to attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told reporters he was "very sad" his teacher thought his clock was a weapon.

"I built a clock to impress my teacher but when I showed it to her she thought it was a threat to her. I'm very sad that she got the wrong impression of it."

He has since said he intends to leave the school. 

President Barack Obama this week invited him to the White House, tweeting: "Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great."

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