She Said a Black Teen Stole Her Phone. Now She Faces a Robbery Charge.


For Miya Ponsetto, a nationally televised interview was a possibility to apologize, her lawyer mentioned, for falsely accusing a Black teenager of stealing her cellphone — after which tackling him — within the foyer of a SoHo resort.

As a substitute, Ms. Ponsetto, 22, went off script. She stormed out of the disastrous interview with “CBS This Morning,” recorded on Thursday, solely to be arrested hours later by California authorities. By the point the interview aired on Friday morning, Ms. Ponsetto was going through a cost of tried theft in New York, her lawyer and police officers mentioned.

Her private lawyer, Sharen H. Ghatan, mentioned on Friday that she had turn into involved for Ms. Ponsetto, who had behaved erratically within the hours earlier than her arrest.

“My concern now could be along with her psychological well being and her properly being,” Ms. Ghatan mentioned. “She is behaving in a style that’s utterly of her personal volition.” Of the interview, which was met with widespread derision on-line, Ms. Ghatan mentioned, “I used to be embarrassed for her.”

At round 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, the police mentioned, Ms. Ponsetto obtained into her car exterior her residence in Piru, Calif., and ignored orders from police to cease. Deputies with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Workplace and two New York detectives who had traveled to California to arrest Ms. Ponsetto adopted her for a couple of mile earlier than she was lastly detained, the authorities mentioned.

“She stored driving,” mentioned Capt. Eric Buschow, with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Workplace. “She was very uncooperative.”

Credit score…Ventura County Sheriff’s Workplace, by way of Getty Photos

In late December, Ms. Ponsetto was caught on video tackling Keyon Harrold Jr., the 14-year-old son of a outstanding jazz musician, within the foyer of a boutique resort in SoHo. She had falsely accused him of stealing her cellphone, and might be heard yelling, “No, I’m not letting him stroll away with my telephone!”

The video, which garnered widespread consternation on social media, was yet one more instance of Black folks in America being confronted with baseless accusations whereas merely going about their lives. It drew comparisons to an incident in May, through which a white girl known as 911 to falsely declare {that a} Black bird-watcher in Central Park had threatened her life. (Ms. Ponsetto, her lawyer mentioned, is of Puerto Rican and Vietnamese descent.)

A New York police official briefed on the case mentioned Ms. Ponsetto is going through a cost of third-degree tried theft as a result of she was seen on the video lunging on the teenager and making an attempt to seize his cellphone.

She is just not being charged with a hate or bias crime “as a result of she didn’t say something about that,” mentioned the official, who spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of Ms. Ponsetto had not but been formally charged.

The Manhattan district lawyer’s workplace didn’t touch upon Friday. However a legislation enforcement official with information of the investigation mentioned prosecutors weren’t ruling out the potential for further costs. The official additionally requested for his or her identify to be withheld as a result of they weren’t licensed to talk publicly in regards to the case.

Throughout a courtroom look in California on Friday, Ms. Ponsetto was transferred into the custody of the New York authorities, Captain Buschow mentioned. She will likely be returned to New York to face theft and different costs.

The arrest in California got here after greater than every week of mounting stress on the New York Police Division to carry her accountable. Officers with each the Ventura County Sheriff’s Workplace and the New York Police Division famous that it’s not unusual for authorities to cooperate when an individual going through costs has fled to a different state.

Someday earlier than her arrest, Ms. Ponsetto sat down for an interview with “CBS This Morning,” through which she mentioned her actions weren’t racially motivated. She as a substitute offered herself as a younger girl who may have dealt with the state of affairs higher.

“I’m a 22-year-old woman,” Ms. Ponsetto informed CBS’s Gayle King. “I don’t — racism is — how is one woman accusing a man a couple of telephone against the law?”

At one level through the interview she held up a hand to the digicam and mentioned, “All proper, Gayle. Sufficient,” as Ms. Ghatan quietly pleaded along with her to cease.

Ms. Ghatan mentioned she canceled different media appearances for Ms. Ponsetto after observing her shopper develop more and more erratic throughout her interview with Ms. King. Ms. Ghatan mentioned she had repeatedly tried to interrupt her to no avail. “She went off script,” she mentioned. “She determined to ignore my recommendation and simply go on her personal.”

“I don’t suppose she ought to have dealt with it they method she did,” Ms. Ghatan added. “She was ready and guided. She apologized, however not in the way in which she ought to have. However she mentioned so many different issues that it nearly blurred her message. It was so disrespectful.”

The video in query surfaced after Keyon Harrold, who was staying on the Arlo SoHo resort together with his son, Keyon Jr., recorded the incident and later posted the video on social media.

The video shows Ms. Ponsetto confronting Mr. Harrold and his son after they stroll into the resort foyer. She insists, with out proof, that Keyon Jr. has taken her cellphone. Ms. Ponsetto then asks a person who’s heard figuring out himself as a resort supervisor for assist. The video goes on to point out the supervisor asking the younger man to supply the cellphone, in an obvious try to verify Ms. Ponsetto’s allegations.

The New York Police Division launched surveillance footage that exhibits Ms. Ponsetto operating after Keyon Jr. and tackling him.

Ms. Ponsetto had additionally tried to rummage by way of Keyon Jr.’s pockets, Mr. Harrold mentioned in a current interview with The New York Occasions. Mr. Harrold mentioned he had been knowledgeable by resort workers that an Uber driver had discovered Ms. Ponsetto’s telephone later within the day, and that she had picked it up from the resort.





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