The woman who physically attacked and falsely accused a Black teen of stealing her iPhone at a SoHo hotel in New York City addressed the situation in a new interview with CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King. Shortly after the interview took place on Thursday (7 January), she was arrested by Ventura County Police in Piru, California.
Miya Ponsetto, 22, spoke to King with her lawyer present and defended herself as “super sweet”, saying it was not her “intention” to hurt the teen (identified as 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr), who did not have her cell phone. (It was returned to her later.)
“Miya, help me understand, what made you think Keyon had your phone?,” asked King.
“In my mind, anybody exiting the hotel is probably the one trying to steal my phone,” Ponsetto said. “I admit, yes, I could’ve approached the situation differently or maybe not yelled at him like that and made him feel some sort of inferior way… I really never ever meant for it to hurt him or his father either.”
“When you look at the video, the reaction seems very extreme. It doesn’t seem like it’s someone who’s super sweet,” countered King about the 26 December incident.
Ponsetto responded saying that she’d felt lost without her phone while visiting New York for the holidays. King, meanwhile, tried to impress upon Ponsetto the severity of the caught-on-camera interaction and the racial undertones behind the now-viral accusation.
Ponsetto followed up by arguing that Keyon’s father, Grammy award-winning jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold Sr, had in turn attacked her. Though King pointed out that Harold was only defending his young son, who had just been physically assaulted.
“I do think there should be some context to your actions that day,” King said.
“How is one girl accusing a guy about a phone a crime?,” asked Ponsetto.
“You are old enough to know better,” King said.
“Enough,” Ponsetto snapped at King, raising her hand to the CBS anchor.
The second part of the interview will air on Monday.
“She wanted to make an apology, but as I said to her in the interview, ‘I’m not sure you’re helping yourself here,'” King said to her CBS This Morning co-anchors after airing the clip.
Hours after the interview, which was filmed on Thursday (7 January), Ponsetto was arrested on a fugitive warrant by Ventura County officers in front of her home in Piru, California. According to NBC News, officers had to forcibly remove Ponsetto from her vehicle, saying she was resisting arrest and had tried to slam the car door on one of the deputies.
The Ventura County officers had coordinated with the New York City Police Department to track down Ponsetto.
The Harrold family is being represented by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who called for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. to bring assault and battery charges against Ponsetto.
“Keyon Harrold Jr. will live with this trauma for life, the weight of racism on the shoulders of another generation,” Crump wrote in a statement. “He deserves better than this treatment!”