Miya "SoHo Karen" Ponsetto is facing a lawsuit after she falsely accused a young, Black teenager of theft at a hotel last December. After accusing Keyon Harrold Jr. of stealing her cellphone, Ponsetto is accused of chasing him and tackling him. Then, Ponsetto allegedly “began to grab at his pants and rummage through his pockets in an attempt to steal his phone.” The lawsuit does not end with Ponsetto. The Harrold family has also accused the Arlo Hotel and manager Chad Nathan of aiding and abetting Ponsetto's actions.
“The episode was yet another instance of African Americans being harmed by baseless accusations while going about their daily life,” the lawsuit states.
“In this case, racial profiling spiraled into a violent and frightening assault against an innocent African-American child.”
The incident in question took place at the Arlo Hotel in New York on December 26. As Harrold Jr. and his father, Keyon Harrold Sr., entered the hotel, Ponsetto accused the teenager of stealing her phone. A recording of the incident then shows Ponsetto following Harrold Jr. and demanding that he return her phone. His father intervenes to protect his son and moves Ponsetto away from the teenager. Arlo Hotel manager tried to deescalate, but does so unsuccessfully. Shortly after the incident took place, Harrold Sr., Grammy Award winner, posted the video to his Instagram account. At one point, he appears to ask the teenager to pull out his own phone to prove that it is not Ponsetto's.
"This person quote on quote ‘lost’ her iPhone, and apparently, my son magically acquired it,” he wrote.
“This incident went on for five more minutes, me protecting my son from this lunatic. She scratched me; she tackled and grabbed him.”
Minutes after the encounter, an Uber driver found Ponsetto's phone. About ten days later, Ponsetto was arrested and charged with attempted assault, grand larceny, attempted robbery, and acting in a manner injurious to a child. She is expected to appear in court on March 29.
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