By The Associated Press on January 7, 2021.
NEW YORK – A California woman seen on video tackling a Black teenager whom she falsely accused of stealing her phone at a Manhattan hotel is “emotionally unwell” and remorseful, her attorney said Thursday, as the New York Police Department sent detectives out to speak with her.
Miya Ponsetto was confirmed as the woman in the Dec. 26 video by her attorney, Sharen Ghatan.
The conflict at the Arlo Hotel in lower Manhattan between Ponsetto and 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr. was recorded by his father, jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold, and put online.
In his video, an agitated woman is seen demanding her phone be returned while a hotel manager tries to settle the situation.
Security video later released by the NYPD shows the woman frantically chasing down the teen as he tried to exit the hotel’s front door. She’s seen grabbing him from behind before both tumble to the ground. Harrold has said the phone was returned by an Uber driver shortly afterward.
The altercation drew comparisons to cases like that of Amy Cooper, a white woman who was charged with filing a false report for calling 911 and saying she was being threatened by “an African American man” during a dispute in New York’s Central Park in May.
Harrold has called on the Manhattan district attorney to bring assault and battery charges against Ponsetto.
No charges have been filed yet in the hotel case, but the NYPD on Thursday said detectives were on the way to California. Ghatan said she had not been in contact with anyone from the NYPD.
Ghatan said she spoke to her client, who lives near Los Angeles, on Thursday, and that “she strikes me as someone who’s unwell.”
She said Ponsetto “lashed out” over worry about her phone disappearing, and that it wasn’t racially motivated.
It “could have been anyone,” she said.