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‘Soho Karen’ who attacked Black teenager identified

Miya Ponsetto, 22, was identified by police sources as the woman who falsely accused the 14-year-old of stealing her phone

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Thursday 07 January 2021 18:05 GMT
NYPD releases cctv showing woman attacking black boy who she accused of stealing her iPhone

The “Soho Karen”, who police said assaulted a Black teen she falsely accused of taking her cell phone in a New York City hotel on Sunday, has been identified.

NYPD sources told the New York Post that the suspect is 22-year-old Miya Ponsetto.

Surveillance footage of the incident released on Wednesday showed the woman tackling 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr to the ground. The teenager, who is Black, is the son of jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold.

The elder Mr Harrold shared his own video of the incident, which took place in the Arlo Hotel in Manhattan, to Instagram. The clip has since been viewed almost three million times.

He also posted a still featuring the woman identified as Ms Ponsetto. 

Many social media users condemned the woman, who was then widely nicknamed “SoHo Karen”.

New York police department chief of detectives Rodney Harrison said later said at a press conference: "After we were able to get video, we’re now looking to charge this individual with assault and maybe even look at grand larceny or maybe even attempted robbery."

Keyon Harrold Jr told ABC7 earlier this week that the incident has left him “shell-shocked” and “confused” adding: “I mean, don't know what would've happened if my dad wasn't there, honestly.”

His father was equally dismayed.

Mr Harrold Sr, is from Ferguson, Missouri, where a white police officer’s killing of an unarmed Black teenager named Michael Brown in 2014 sparked nationwide Black Lives Matter protests. Mr Harrold said that he had been racially profiled throughout his life. He noted that the hotel episode could have ended "wrongly" had he not been with his son at that moment.

"I want my son to grow up whole. That's all we want. ... I come from Ferguson and this has been my passport to the world," the elder Mr Harrold said at a Wednesday news conference, pointing to his trumpet. 

"And I can't even come downstairs in New York City ... and just go get brunch without being attacked and wrongfully accused of something."

Ms Ponsetto disputed this version of events to CNN and said that she herself was assaulted, though didn’t provide evidence of this claim.

“That's not who I am,” she told the network. “I actually ... try very hard to make sure that I am always doing the right thing."

The Daily Mail reported on Thursday that Ponsetto was arrested twice in 2020, for public intoxication and drunk driving. She pleaded no contest to the DUI charge, and her other case, stemming from a February arrest for intoxication in Beverly Hills, is still pending, with the next court date scheduled for January 28, 2021.

Police confirmed to The Independent in a statement that the suspect had attacked the pair about the cell phone, causing injuries, and that they weren’t investigating the encounter as a “bias incident.”

The “40-year-old male sustained scratches to his hand”, the statement said. The NYPD has positively identified the woman and were “endeavoring to locate her”. 

"I want to thank God because this incident could have ended very different,” Kat Rodriguez, the teen’s mother, told CNN. “I pray for the mothers and fathers who have lost their sons to racial injustice."

This article was amended on January 7, 2021, to explain the origin of the nickname “Soho Karen”

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