29.01.2022

Woman filmed making false phone theft accusation against musician’s Black teenage son

Mr Harrold, a Grammy award-winning trumpeter, posted a clip of the incident in the lobby of the Arlo Hotel which occurred on Saturday, capturing the woman demanding to see his 14-year-old son’s phone.

The footage shows the agitated woman, who has not been identified, repeatedly ordering the hotel manager to get the boy to show her his phone and take it from him.

At one point during the confrontation, the woman appears to move forward and shouts, “I’m not letting him walk away with my phone.”

An incident during which a woman accused the Black son of jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold of stealing her phone in a New York City hotel lobby is being investigated by authorities after a clip of the confrontation went viral.

Mr Harrold, who was staying at the hotel with his son, has said the unidentified woman scratched him and tackled and grabbed his son, Keyon Harrold Jr.

“But after the video cuts off and, I mean, she basically tackled, she scratched me, and I was there to, you know, try to protect my little cub,” Mr Harrold told ABC7 in an interview following the incident.

The woman’s phone was reportedly returned to the hotel by an Uber driver shortly after the incident, the musician said.

Keyon Harrold Jr, who is seen in the video being instructed by his father not to concede to the woman’s demand to see his phone, told ABC7 the incident has left him “shell-shocked.”

“I’ve been confused,” the teenager told the broadcaster in an interview.

“I mean, don’t know what would’ve happened if my dad wasn’t there, honestly. These past few days, still kind of shell-shocked. But I’m hanging in there.”

The teenager explained he would like the woman to apologise for the incident and explain why she acted in the way she did towards a “kid who has never met you”.

“He’s the sweetest, most genuine kid you could ask for,” Mr Harrold said of his son in an interview on Monday evening. “I was just appalled at how he was treated.”

The video, which has received more than two million views since it was posted online, drew ongoing discussions about false accusations made against Black people across the US.

“Fear came in because my son, if his father wouldn’t have been there, what would have happened to my son if the cops would have been called,” the boy’s mother, Kat Rodriguez, told ABC7.

“When my son asked me, ‘Why me, mom?’ That just hurt.”

Mr Harrold, who has performed with musicians including Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Eminem, said he “couldn’t imagine what it would have been like” if he hadn’t been there to stick up for his son.

Ben Crump, the family’s attorney, is calling for the Manhattan District Attorney to bring assault and battery charges against the woman.

“We want charges because we have to send a message because this has larger society implications,” he said.

“As this year of racial awareness is drawing to a close, it’s deeply troubling that incidents like this one, in which a Black child is viewed as and treated like a criminal, continue to happen.”

“This is racism. Plain and simple,” he said. “It would be horrific at any age, but it’s especially offensive that it happened to a child.”

Mr Crump and the Harrold family have also called for a civil rights investigation into the Arlo Hotel “for its implicit bias” in its treatment of the teen.

“We’re deeply disheartened about the recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice, and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo Hotel,” the hotel posted on Facebook.

The hotel said that a further investigation into the incident had led them to determine the hotel manager “promptly called the police regarding the woman’s conduct” but they added that “more could have been done to de-escalate the dispute.”

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