Man mistakenly thought to have pledged allegiance to ISIS sues hotel, Avon police

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AVON, Ohio - An Arab man who was detained when a hotel clerk claimed he pledged allegiance to ISIS last summer has filed a lawsuit. The man is suing the hotel chain and the police officers who responded to the call.

Attorney Terry Gilbert says the man, who is a citizen of the United Arab Emirates, experienced the worst aspects of American Islamophobia and racism. He believes the man should be compensated for emotional and physical distress he experienced.

"There is a male in a full headdress with multiple disposable phones, pledging his, um, hold on...pledging his allegiance or something to ISIS," the clerk is heard telling a 911 dispatcher.

Last June, the clerk at the Fairfield Inn and Suites called her sister, saying she was afraid when a man wearing Arabic clothing, walked in speaking Arabic.

Her sister called police. Body cam video recorded the incident.

"It just freaked me out with everything going on," the clerk is heard telling officers on body cam.

"He didn't say anything else?" asked the officer.

"Because the call we got is that someone said that he was pledging his allegiance to ISIS," he continued.

"No, no, no, no," the clerk responded.

Officers detained 41-year old Ahmed Al-Menhali, who was in the U-S from the United Arab Emirates being treated at the Cleveland Clinic.

According to the lawsuit, "Mr. Al-Menhali suffered severe emotional and physical distress which triggered a stroke."

It claims the hotel employees "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."

It also states that responding police officers "failed to investigate or deescalate" the situation "and instead summarily attacked Mr. Al-Menhali with an unjustified SWAT-style assault."

"We've re-looked at every inch of what we've done and under the circumstances in terms of what we were given, the information, I think our officers did the right thing," said Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen.

Jensen says he is disappointed about the lawsuit.

"Had we known the truth and maybe that, hey, she was just afraid that she wanted someone out there to come check it out, it would've been handled differently, but that was not the case," said the mayor.

Fox 8 reached out to Marriott International, the hotel's parent company, but did not yet receive a response.

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