Woman charged with NYC hate crime for accusing Black teen of stealing

New York News

A still from a video shot by Keyon Harrold shows Miya Ponsetto on Dec. 26, 2020, at a New York City hotel. (Keyon Harrold)

Miya Ponsetto’s booking photo. (Ventura County, California Sheriff’s Office/AP)

NEW YORK (NEXSTAR) — The woman who allegedly confronted a teenage boy, demanded his phone, falsely accused him of stealing it, and tackled him in a Manhattan hotel pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges against her in court on Wednesday.

Miya Ponsetto was arraigned in court in Manhattan on Wednesday on charges including unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child. She has also been sued by the family of the then 14-year-old boy.

Ponsetto was at the Arlo Hotel in December when she got into a confrontation with the teen, saying he had stolen her phone.

The boy’s father—jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold—captured the Dec. 26, 2020, incident on video. It shows Ponsetto demand that the boy prove to her that his cellphone is not hers.

Security video later released by the NYPD showed Ponsetto frantically grabbed at the teenager as he tried to get away from her through the hotel’s front door. She then clutched him from behind and both tumbled to the ground, the video showed.

Ponsetto’s phone was later returned to the hotel by an Uber driver. Critics on social media dubbed Ponsetto the “SoHo Karen.”

Harrold has insisted that he and his son, both of whom are Black, were racially profiled by Ponsetto. “Our son’s security and safety, it matters,” Kat Rodriguez, the teen’s mother, said.

Civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton joined the family and Ben Crump, their attorney, on Wednesday. “Hate is in the actions and this, today, established a legal precedent that we needed in the city of New York,” he said about the charges against Ponsetto.

Ponsetto’s attorney called the charges “a brazen and clear overreach.”

The Associated Press and WPIX contributed to this report.

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