On Monday, police officers in Irving, Texas, arrested a 14-year-old student named Ahmed Mohamed after he brought a homemade clock — an engineering project — to school, which one teacher reportedly suspected to be a bomb.
The incident has already raised widespread outrage over the detention of a clearly enthusiastic high school student who likes to tinker with electronics. The Wednesday afternoon response from Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd is unlikely to quell the anger. Instead of apologizing for an arrest that shouldn't have happened, Boyd essentially accuses Ahmed of being uncooperative and posing a threat — so much so that he had to be "handcuffed for his safety."
This, via the Associated Press, is the statement:
The student showed the device to a teacher who was concerned it was possibly the infrastructure for a bomb. School resource officers questioned the student about his intentions, and the reason he brought the device to the school. The student would only say that it was a clock and was not forthcoming at that time about any other details. Having no other information to go on, and taking into consideration the devices suspicious appearance and the safety of the students and the staff at MacArthur High School, the student was taken into custody for possession of a hoax bomb. Under Texas law, a person is guilty of possessing a hoax bomb if he possesses a device that is intended to cause anyone to be alarmed, or in reaction of any time by law enforcement officers. Follow the standard procedures that we have, the student was handcuffed for his safety, and for the safety of the officers, and transported to a juvenile processing center here at the police station. Recognizing additional facts were required, the student was released to his parents until further investigation could be completed.
Boyd says Ahmed would "only say it was a clock and was not forthcoming at the time about any other details." It's unclear, however, what other information a high school engineering student would need to provide about his homemade clock — except for the fact it was a clock.
As to whether Ahmed did, in fact, need to be handcuffed, no one aside from Ahmed and the police know what exactly happened in their Monday interaction. But one photograph of the student's arrest makes it hard to believe that the 14-year-old kid in a NASA shirt posed a threat that required restraint.
I expect they will have more to say tomorrow, but Ahmed's sister asked me to share this photo. A NASA shirt! pic.twitter.com/nR4gt992gB— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 16, 2015
Here's what the police statement doesn't contain: an apology. Nowhere does Boyd apologize for an arrest that shouldn't have happened. Instead, he uses his public statement to justify putting in handcuffs a high school student whose only crime was an enterprising extracurricular activity.