Prosecutor to decide whether to pursue charges after false accusation against Muslim man at hotel

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AVON, Ohio--- Avon police are turning over their investigation of an Avon hotel clerk to the Lorain County Prosecutor's office.

The clerk, who authorities said falsely accused a man visiting Northeast Ohio from the United Arab Emirates, could now face criminal charges.

The  incident happened last Wednesday, June 29, at the Fairfield Inn and Suites on Colorado Avenue in Avon.

A 911 call was made by the father of the hotel clerk, who claims she heard the man pledging his allegiance to Isis.

Avon police officers arrived with assault style weapons, confronting who they believed to be a terror suspect.

Turns out the report was false and Ahmed Al Menhali was briefly detained then released.

The clerk, 22, can be seen being questioned by an officer as police body cameras roll.

She reportedly tells police she heard the man speaking on his cell phone in Arabic.

“That’s all I know and it scared me. Officer says, “That’s it? Because we heard the man pledged his allegiance to Isis! No.”

Al Menhali, a businessman in town being treated for a medical condition at the Cleveland Clinic, was wearing traditional robe and head dress and appeared confused in body cam video, while pleading with police they had it all wrong.

Turns out, he was right.

On Saturday, Avon's police chief and the city's mayor delivered an apology to Al Menhali at the Cleveland offices of CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group.

But the investigation is far from over.

In addition to the Lorain County prosecutor deciding whether charges should be pursued against the hotel clerk, local Muslim leaders and the victim still have unanswered questions.

CAIR spokesperson Julia A. Shearson said, "He's waiting and watching to see if they're going to make good on the promises that they have stated to us. That they would thoroughly review the incident, look at the dispatch to see what they can do better."

Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen said in a statement, this was an unfortunate incident and while police followed proper procedure, it would’ve been handled differently if they received more accurate information.

"We know that Avon police have to respond, but they have to respond appropriately, not based on the ignorance and what looks like unfounded fear."

FOX 8 reached out to Lorain County prosecutor Dennis Will to see if there is a time frame on when he could take further action, including asking a grand jury to consider criminal charges.

As for the hotel clerk, Marriott, which owns the Fairfield Inn and Suites, said she is no longer employed. However, they would not say if she resigned or was fired from her position.

They posted the following statement online:

Marriott International is aware of the incident that occurred at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, in Avon, Ohio that resulted in a gentleman who entered the hotel being apprehended and briefly detained by local authorities. This was a terrible misunderstanding and we deeply regret what happened to Mr. Al Menhali.  Diversity and inclusion is a core principle of Marriott’s operations and we remain committed to providing a welcoming environment. We have been in regular contact with the hotel since the incident and we will be following up to discuss diversity and inclusion training designed to help prevent this type of situation.

Al Menhali has hired local attorney David Malik, who tells FOX 8 his client is traumatized and could possibly take civil action.

Read more here.

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