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The Woman Who Attacked A Black Teen And Accused Him Of Stealing Her Phone Said She Didn't Mean To "Hurt His Feelings"

Deputies stopped Miya Ponsetto on Thursday, but she refused to get out of her car until they forcibly removed and arrested her.

Posted on January 8, 2021, at 12:38 p.m. ET

CBS This Morning

A 22-year-old woman who falsely and violently accused a Black teen of stealing her phone said she considers herself "super sweet" and did not mean to make him feel like she was "hurting his feelings," despite attacking and harassing the teen in a hotel lobby.

"I don't feel that that is who I am as a person," Miya Ponsetto told Gayle King in an interview with CBS This Morning before her arrest on Thursday. "I don't feel like this one mistake does define me, but I do sincerely from the bottom of my heart apologize if I made the son feel as if I assaulted him or if I hurt his feelings or the father's feelings."

Ponsetto was caught on tape furiously yelling at 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr. and his dad, Grammy-winning jazz musician Keyon Harrold, in the lobby of the Arlo Soho hotel in New York City last month. She accused Keyon, who had just come out of the elevator with his dad, of stealing her phone.

Security footage also shows her attacking Keyon, lunging at him from the back as he tries to move away.

She was arrested Thursday in her home state of California after a joint effort from the Ventura County Sheriff's Office and the New York Police Department.

According to the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, deputies contacted Ponsetto during a traffic stop, but the woman did not stop for them until she reached her residence. Once there, she refused to get out of the car and deputies forcibly removed her from the car and arrested her, police said.

She is being held without bail, for a fugitive warrant, and will be held pending an extradition hearing, according to the sheriff's office.

A spokesperson for the NYPD told BuzzFeed News on Friday that Ponsetto has not yet been extradited.

In a portion of the interview released Friday, Ponsetto is seen wearing a "Daddy" cap that King said her lawyer urged her to remove before the interview began.

She said she approached people exiting the hotel that day, thinking that anyone exiting might be the person who stole her phone.

When King asked if she stopped everyone leaving the hotel, she said, "not everyone, just the people that — in the meantime while the hotel manager was checking the footage, I just wanted to do my part."

Ponsetto later recovered her phone from the hotel, she told King. Harrold said in an Instagram post recounting the incident that an Uber driver returned her phone and that neither he nor his son received an apology.

"When you look at the video, the reaction seems very extreme. It doesn't seem like someone who's super sweet," King told her.

Ponsetto said she was in New York to spend the holidays with her family.

"OK. So, basically, I'm a 22-year-old girl. I am— I don't— racism— uh— is— I— how is one girl accusing a guy about a phone a crime? Where is the context in that? What is the deeper story here?" she said.

"You seem to have attacked this teenager about the phone, and then it turned out he didn't even have your phone," King replied. "You're saying, Look, I'm 22 years old, but you are old enough to know better."

"All right, Gayle, enough," Ponsetto said abruptly, putting up a hand, as her lawyer Sharen Ghatan whispers, "No, stop, stop."

The 22-year-old woman caught on camera allegedly physically attacking a 14-year-old Black teen and falsely accusing him of stealing her phone was arrested in California. In an exclusive interview, Miya Ponsetto and her lawyer spoke with @GayleKing hours before she was arrested.

Twitter: @CBSThisMorning

Harrold and his son had just come down the elevator that day when Ponsetto, who was in the lobby, suddenly accused the 14-year-old of stealing her phone.

In a video recorded by Harrold, Ponsetto is seen demanding to see Keyon's phone and claiming it as hers, as Harrold tells both Ponsetto and a hotel employee that his son does not need to show anyone his phone.

"You don't have to explain nothing to her," Harrold tells Keyon. "My son has nothing to do with her. "

Ponsetto grows increasingly irate and chases after them, and as security video shows, attacks Keyon.

"She scratched me; she Tackled and grabbed him. He is a child!!!" Harrold wrote in his Instagram post, adding that Ponsetto had checked out three days prior and pointing out that the hotel employee empowered the woman to behave that way. "Now think about the trauma that my son now has to carry, only coming downstairs to have box day brunch with his dad."

Harrold's video went viral, and although Ghatan, Ponsetto's lawyer, claimed her behavior wasn't racially motivated, the video sparked massive outrage against what many said was a clear case of racial profiling.

Keyon's mom, Katty Rodriguez — who is also a prominent musician — said in an Instagram post Friday that she is happy Ponsetto has been arrested, but they want her charged and convicted.

She also called out Arlo Hotels for staying silent about the incident, writing, "know that you are as EQUALLY responsibly for what happened to our son!"

The full CBS This Morning interview will air Monday.


A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

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