UAE man falsely accused of pledging allegiance to ISIS sues hotel, clerk, Avon police

AVON, OH (WOIO) - Shouting, with guns drawn, police bodycam video captured Avon officers responding to what they were told was a possible terror threat at a Fairfield Inn & Suites hotel.

The video, which was seen around the world, was taken June 29, 2016. Wednesday, it was brought back into the spotlight.

Ahmed Al-Menhali, the man who was seen on video forced to the ground and handcuffed, has filed a lawsuit against the hotel, Marriott International Inc., the hotel clerks, and the six Avon police officers who responded to the scene.

Police were called to the hotel after a clerk texted her family, falsely claiming a man in the lobby was pledging allegiance to ISIS. The hotel clerk's sister and father then called 9-1-1, leading to the response from police.

"You can't just make the false claim," said Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen.

Jensen said he's disappointed by the lawsuit. Avon conducted its own investigation after the incident happened. They felt officers responded in the right way.

"It's unfortunate, and you never want those things to happen, but you look at the information you're given and you do what you're supposed to do, so you're always disappointed when someone says, 'Oh, we're going to file a lawsuit,'" Jensen said.

The lawsuit claims Al-Menhali "experienced the worst aspects of American Islamophobia and racism" when Marriott hotel clerks "falsely accused him of pledging allegiance to ISIS based solely on the facts that he was an Arab man, wearing traditional dress and speaking Arabic."

Cleveland 19 News spoke with Al-Menhali just days after the incident happened. Back in June, he said he feared for his life.

"How they look at me like that, they want just a reason to kill me," Al-Menhali said.

In the lawsuit, it states Avon police officers "attacked Mr. Al-Menhali with an unjustified SWAT-style assault ... violently approached Mr. Al-Menhali with weapons fixed upon him, used excessive force against him, and detained him without probable cause and without any legal justification."

The lawsuit also claims the arrest caused Al-Menhali physical pain. He spent days in the hospital after having symptoms of a stroke.

Jensen said he feels bad for Al-Menhali, but he believes Avon's officers acted appropriately based on what they were told.

"Their job is to protect the citizens and I think they did that," he said. "I really believe, once all the evidence is looked at, the city will be found harmless."

Al-Menhali and his wife, Taghrid Milki, are seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

After the incident happened, Mayor Jensen and Avon Police Chief Richard Bosley met with Al-Menhali to apologize for what happened.

Cleveland 19 News reached out to the hotel for a response, but hadn't heard back Wednesday evening. The hotel clerk named in the lawsuit was fired from the hotel after the incident happened.

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