N.Y.P.D. to Question Woman Who Tackled Black Teenager at SoHo Hotel

For greater than per week, the authorities in New York Metropolis have confronted mounting public strain to arrest a girl caught on video tackling a Black teenager within the foyer of a boutique resort in SoHo after falsely accusing him of stealing her cellphone.

Now, detectives are touring to California to interview the lady, the police mentioned on Thursday — an uncommon step usually reserved for crimes which can be violent or excessive profile.

It was not but clear if that meant the lady, recognized by her lawyer as Miya Ponsetto, 22, would face any fees in reference to the Dec. 26 incident. The police mentioned the investigation was persevering with, and prosecutors have declined to debate the case, noting on Thursday that fees haven’t been filed.

The episode was one more occasion of Black individuals being confronted with baseless accusations whereas going about their each day lives. It has drawn comparisons to an incident in May when a white girl referred to as 911 to falsely declare {that a} Black bird-watcher in Central Park was threatening her life.

The video was taken and posted on social media by Keyon Harrold, a distinguished jazz musician, who was staying on the Arlo resort along with his 14-year-old son, Keyon Harrold, Jr.

Within the video, Ms. Ponsetto might be seen confronting Mr. Harrold and his son after they stroll into the resort foyer, insisting with out proof that Keyon Jr. has her cellphone. Ms. Ponsetto might be seen asking a resort supervisor to assist her, after which the supervisor identifies himself and asks Keyon Jr. to supply a cellphone, in an obvious try to confirm Ms. Ponsetto’s declare.

Surveillance footage launched by the police final week reveals Ms. Ponsetto working after Keyon Jr. and tackling him. Ms. Ponsetto was making an attempt to rummage by means of Keyon Jr.’s pockets, Mr. Harrold mentioned.

Mr. Harrold mentioned he was advised by the resort that an Uber driver discovered Ms. Ponsetto’s telephone later within the day, and he or she picked it up from the resort.

Ms. Ponsetto has been the topic of public scrutiny and hypothesis about doable felony fees for the reason that video emerged. In keeping with public information, she faces unrelated felony fees in California, together with a lewd conduct cost in Los Angeles County involving an incident in February and a driving whereas intoxicated cost in Ventura County following an incident in October.

Prosecutors in California didn’t instantly present extra particulars.

In an interview on Wednesday, Ms. Ponsetto’s lawyer, Sharen H. Ghatan, confirmed Ms. Ponsetto was the lady within the Arlo resort video. She mentioned Ms. Ponsetto regretted her actions and was looking for to apologize in particular person to Mr. Harrold and his household. As of Thursday morning, the police had not contacted Ms. Ponsetto, Ms. Ghatan mentioned.

Ms. Ghatan mentioned Ms. Ponsetto was not focusing on Mr. Harrold or his son due to their race. She is of Puerto Rican and Vietnamese descent and doesn’t establish as white, Ms. Ghatan mentioned.

“She’s not making an attempt to make any racial assertion,” Ms. Ghatan mentioned. “She’s a feminine herself of blended cultural descent. She’s not some blond-haired, blue eyed privileged white girl. She actually simply needed to get her telephone again.”

Ms. Ponsetto was visiting her father who lives within the New York Metropolis space over the vacations when she misplaced her cellphone, Ms. Ghatan mentioned. Ms. Ponsetto was a visitor on the resort sooner or later through the vacation week, Ms. Ghatan mentioned, but it surely was not clear why she was there when the confrontation happened.

Ms. Ponsetto noticed Keyon Jr. with a telephone and thought it was hers, in response to Ms. Ghatan.

“What occurred, occurred,” Ms. Ghatan mentioned. “Would she do it once more? No. It was purely out of her being anxious, careworn, cornered, feeling helpless, misplaced, alone, unsupported.”

She mentioned Ms. Ponsetto works in an workplace for a health-related firm, however declined to be extra particular.

“She’s not a celeb, she’s not a Kardashian,” Ms. Ghatan mentioned. “She doesn’t know methods to act, she doesn’t know methods to behave. She’s a younger lady.”

Mr. Harrold mentioned Ms. Ponsetto’s actions demanded greater than an apology. He mentioned that each her conduct and the resort supervisor’s actions mirrored a systemic drawback the place Black individuals — and Black youngsters specifically — are seen as threats or outsiders.

Mr. Harrold described his son as harmless and impressionable — “an aspiring music producer, drummer, artist, who loves being round his pals.” However, he mentioned, he’s too usually not seen that means. “He’s made out to be felony. He’s made out to be a menace. That’s the factor that should change.”

The Police Division has mentioned that they weren’t treating the confrontation as a “bias incident.” But it surely has drawn widespread consideration as a placing instance of racial profiling.

Joseph L. Giacalone, a retired New York Metropolis police sergeant and an adjunct professor at John Jay School of Felony Justice, mentioned that the strain from the general public on the Police Division “is simply immense right here,” significantly given the latest protests towards systemic racism following the loss of life of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

He mentioned that it was a rarity for detectives to journey throughout the nation for something aside from homicide or chilly case investigations.

“That is an uncommon occasion that’s pushed not solely by media, however by social media,” he mentioned.

At a information convention final week, Mayor Invoice de Blasio mentioned it has “virtually turn into tragically comical how a lot you may depend on the truth that somebody will unjustly accuse a younger man of coloration in America.”

“When somebody does one thing like this, they should endure penalties,” he mentioned. “And there must be actual motion right here by the felony justice system to verify there are penalties on this case.”

At a separate information convention, the Rev. Al Sharpton and civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, who’s representing Mr. Harrold, referred to as on prosecutors and the police to convey fees.

“This has bigger implications,” Mr. Crump mentioned. “It was Emmett Until who was falsely accused and racially profiled that led to him being killed.”

Arlo, which has two accommodations within the metropolis, advertises its SoHo location as a classy vacation spot with a rooftop bar and Hudson River views.

The resort has apologized to Mr. Harrold and his son in an announcement. Whereas the resort mentioned the supervisor referred to as the police to report the incident and resort safety had stepped in, “extra may have been achieved to de-escalate the dispute.”

Mr. Harrold, who has carried out with artists together with Beyoncé, Rihanna and Jay-Z, mentioned he had been staying on the Arlo since mid-December.

Alain Delaquérière contributed analysis and Michael Gold contributed reporting.

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