The family of a Muslim teen arrested for taking a homemade clock to school - only to have it mistaken for a fake bomb - filed a lawsuit today claiming his civil rights were violated.
Ahmed Mohamed was 14 years old last year when he brought an alarm clock he had made at home to his Dallas-area school to show his teacher, who took the clock from him.
Hours later, Mohamed was pulled from class and arrested by police. They later called the device a "hoax bomb," even though it was a clock. The Irving Independent School District suspended Mohamed for three days, anyway.
"Those are violations of his civil rights," Mohamed's lawyer Susan Hutchison said at a press conference announcing the lawsuit. "The only justice we have in our American legal system is money. So, we are suing for justice."
The family has received no apology, Hutchison said, and their previous letter requesting US$15 million in compensation was rejected.
The lawsuit asks for no specific dollar amount.
The incident thrust Mohamed into the national spotlight, earning him an invitation to the White House from President Barack Obama. The US Department of Justice launched a civil rights probe of the school district, which continues.
"I got a lot of support in the beginning, but it's the hate that sticks," Mohamed told the news conference.
He and his family have left Irving, a Dallas suburb, because of the incident, and now live in Qatar where he attends a private high school.
"I lost my creativity, because before I used to love building things," he said, adding that while visiting his former Texas hometown, he wears a hooded sweatshirt, glasses and hat to disguise his appearance out of fear for his safety.
"Over there, it doesn't matter what religion you are. You're still treated the same," he said.
The Irving Independent School District responded in a statement saying it "continues to deny violating the student's rights" and does "everything possible to ensure each student is achieving his or her maximum potential."