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Jury selection begins in case of man falsely accused of being ISIS member, prompting SWAT response

Posted at 8:35 AM, Sep 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-10 08:41:31-04

CLEVELAND — On September 10, the trial is set to begin for a Muslim man from the United Arab Emirates who filed a federal lawsuit against six Avon police officers, Marriott International, Inc., and a hotel clerk after being falsely accused of being a member of ISIS by a hotel desk clerk at an Avon hotel, according to a federal complaint.

Ahmed Al-Menhali was detained by Avon officers in 2016 and falsely accused of pledging his allegiance to ISIS after he inquired about a hotel room in the greater Cleveland area during the run-up to the Republican National Convention. The hotel clerk's false accusation triggered a SWAT-style police response resulting in injury to the plaintiff that required him to be hospitalized.

The entire incident was captured on police body camera video. The complaint alleges Al-Menhali wore traditional Arab attire and was speaking in Arabic on the phone when hotel clerks called 911 to falsely claim he was pledging allegiance to ISIS.

Police responded and detained Al-Menhali, briefly pinning him to the ground. Police quickly determined the claims were false.

“Throwing him down to the pavement, rifling through his pockets, putting their knees in his back. That was, what we believe to be, far more than was needed," Al-Menhali's lawyer Terry Gilbert told News 5 during an interview in 2017.

Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen and Police Chief Richard Bosley publicly apologized for the incident in the summer of 2016, but Gilbert said that wasn't enough.

“They didn’t admit that they did anything wrong," Gilbert said. "They were sorry for what happened to him, but not apologizing for their own conduct."

The trial is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. in the courtroom of Judge Solomon Oliver at the Carl B. Stokes United State Court House.