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Charges dropped in mall attempted abduction case; defense attorney says video shows no contact

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Cabell County prosecutors dropped all charges Thursday against a man arrested earlier this week for the alleged attempted abduction of a five-year-old girl at the Huntington Mall.

Mohamed Zayan, a resident of Alexandria, Egypt, was arrested at the mall Monday night and charged with attempted abduction.

Mohamed Zayad and his attorney Michelle Protzman spoke with reporters after charges were dropped.

Barboursville police arrested him in the food court after the girl’s mother claimed Zayan was pulling her daughter’s hair attempting to drag her away from the Old Navy store. The mother told police she pulled a gun and Zayan let go of the girl and ran away.

The mother told police Tuesday she may have overreacted. She said Zayan may have been patting her daughter on the head. She called it a cultural misunderstanding. Police said there was no video evidence to back-up the original claim.

Zayan’s attorney, Cabell County Assistant Public Defender Michelle Protzman, told MetroNews she watched Old Navy’s security video and there was absolutely no evidence that Zayan touched the girl. She said they weren’t near one another in the store. She said there’s also no video of the mother pulling out a gun.

Protzman said she has no idea why the mother reported what she did. She said the world of social media has increased false accusations.

“Instead of caring about facts and caring about evidence and the truth, I think the court of public opinion and social media don’t care about innocent until proven guilty and everyone jumps right on as soon as somebody makes an accusation,” Protzman said.

She said the accusation until Zayan was reported around the world very quickly.

Zayan, who works for an Egyptian engineering firm that has a contract with a company in the area, has been very confused about the charges, according to Protzman.

“He does not even know who this woman is. There’s no evidence in the video that they were even together in the store,” Protzman said.

Zayan’s $200,000 bail was reduced to personal recognizance Tuesday night and he was released from jail. Prosecutors said they wanted to continue to review the case before deciding what to do with the charges.

The decision to drop all charges was announced at around midday Thursday. Cabell County Prosecutor Corky Hammers says there will be a review of the call the woman made to 911 to determine if there was an intentional false report made.

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