False ISIS incident: Hotel clerk out of job & under investigation

RAW: Avon ISIS (Part 3)

AVON, OH (WOIO) - Avon police turned over their investigation of an Avon hotel clerk who wrongly accused a man of pledging his allegiance to ISIS to the Lorain County Prosecutor's Office on Tuesday.

Police ordered Ahmad al-Menhali to the ground and handcuffed him last week after getting false 911 calls from the hotel clerk's family saying he pledged allegiance to ISIS in the lobby. The clerk may face charges.

Cleveland 19 News was the first to speak with Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen minutes after police turned over the investigation . He said he didn't want to speculate.

"We've done about all we can and given them the information. It'll be up to them to decide. We certainly feel what we have is sufficient," Jensen said.

A representative from the Fairfield Inn and Suites, where the incident occurred, said the hotel clerk is no longer employed there. Marriott released a statement regarding the incident, which read, in part: "We deeply regret what happened."

The clerk's neighbors told Cleveland 19 News the family is out of town.

Jensen said he wants residents to continue to speak up -- to say something if they see something. But he said to make sure to always tell the truth. He doesn't want residents to panic or fabricate scenes.

The victim, who has hired an attorney, was back in the hospital Tuesday.

"Those eyes, which I saw, I cannot forget now how they looked at me like they wanted a reason to kill me," al-Menhali said this weekend.

Friends said he's tired and still shaken up.

"Unfortunately, he had this horrible experience that was preventable had people been better trained," said attorney David Malik.

Malik spoke first with Cleveland 19, saying he wouldn't talk about case strategy or possible legal action. Right now he's working to get video from Marriott to see exactly what happened inside the hotel the day the 911 calls came in.

"We've reached out to Marriott and they haven't responded," Malik said.

The attorney also wants police body and dashcam video.

"If you're a police officer, you need policies in place to operate on an international level, which is what we've come to as a world," Malik said.

Overall, he said he and al-Menahli hope this incident brings about change.

"People need to be educated about other people's cultures," he said.

The false alarm angered Jensen and scared al-Menhali. Police bodycam video captures al-Menhali passing out in the hotel parking lot. Paramedics took him to the hospital where he stayed until Saturday. Al-Menhali believes he had a mini stroke, which affected his speech for days. Cleveland 19 News was the first television station to show the dramatic video from the scene.

"When you hear someone say he pledged allegiance to ISIS, that changes it. Then you find out that statement was never made and it just kind of angers us," said Jensen.

When police told al-Menhali what happened, he thought it was a prank.

"I had a smile on my face because I thought it was candid camera, like a joke," he said. "ISIS do not wear like me. I wear like Jesus."

To try to keep this type of situation from happening to anyone else, al-Menhali met with the mayor and police chief this past Saturday.

"His experience wasn't a good experience, of course, but he wants us to move forward and work together," said Jensen. "It's been a trying time for the city of Avon and a trying time for the community."

Jensen said last week was the first time Avon 911 dispatchers received a call claiming someone was pledging allegiance to ISIS.

"I think, for us maybe, this was a practice run because we know what could have happened. We live in a crazy world," he said.

Despite everything that's happened to al-Menhali, he said he's happy to be in America.

"I feel that is a good step from them," said al-Menhali. "I respect them."

He celebrated with a patriotic cake and American flag on Sunday.

"I love America. I love people," al-Menhali said.

He hopes people start being more respectful and stop being so violent.

"We have to start from school to teach our children how to be peaceful between each other and like each other with different ideas, with different religion, with different clothes," he said.

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