U.S. woman who wrongly accused Black teen of phone theft charged in NYC

Booking photo of Miya Ponsetto   | Photo Credit: Reuters

A 22-year-old California woman who wrongly accused a Black teenager of stealing her phone and tackled him at a New York City hotel in a widely seen video was charged after returning to the city on Saturday.

Miya Ponsetto was charged with attempted robbery, grand larceny, acting in a manner injurious to a child and two counts of attempted assault, according to city police. NYPD detectives flew to California on Thursday with a warrant for the Piru resident's arrest.

Ms. Ponsetto’s confrontation with 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr. on December 26 at Manhattan’s Arlo Hotel was recorded and posted online by his father, jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold. The video shows an agitated woman demanding the teenager’s phone, claiming he stole it. The phone was found soon afterward in an Uber.

Security video released by city police shows Ms. Ponsetto frantically grabbing at the teenager as he tried to get away from her through the hotel’s front door.


The charges follow more than a week of intense media coverage of the hotel lobby encounter and demands by the teen’s family and activists that she face criminal charges.

‘This is not who I am’

Ms. Ponsetto apologised but defended herself in a television interview conducted before she was arrested in California.

“I don’t feel that that is who I am as a person. I don’t feel like this one mistake does define me,” she said in a CBS This Morning interview that aired on Friday. “But I do sincerely from the bottom of my heart apologise that if I made the son feel as if I assaulted him or if I hurt his feelings or the father’s feelings.”

At her arraignment on Saturday, the judge gave Ms. Ponsetto supervised release and granted orders of protection in favour of the victims, according to prosecutors.

Defense attorney Paul D’Emilia said Ms. Ponsetto was innocent of the charges and that the case “will be resolved in our courts and not through social media.”

“We are puzzled and disappointed that at this time of heightened tensions in our country that the authorities chose to exacerbate the situation by needlessly flying members of the NYPD across the country, into the teeth of COVID, to bring back a person who would have returned with a simple telephone request,” Mr. D’Emilia said in an email.

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 3:50:48 PM |

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