SoHo Karen unmasked: Ex-cheerleader from California, 22, is identified as woman who ‘assaulted 14-year-old black boy in NYC hotel lobby after falsely accusing him of stealing her iPhone’
- Miya Ponsetto was named Thursday in connection with the incident involving a 14-year-old black boy she falsely accused of stealing her iPhone
- She is from Sun Valley and is believed to have gone to Simi Valley High School
- It comes after the NYPD released new surveillance footage of the woman tackling the teen to the ground in a New York City hotel
- It shows the woman suddenly run at Keyon Harrold Jr., grab him by the waist and tackle him to the ground in the Arlo Hotel on Saturday
- Its release comes just hours after the 22-year-old woman gave a rambling interview to CNN where she claimed it was her who was assaulted in the dispute
- The boy’s father, Grammy-winning African American jazz artist Keyon Harrold, had previously posted separate footage filmed on his smartphone on Instagram
- Moments after the scuffle, her phone was returned to her by an Uber driver
- The boy’s family and civil rights attorney Ben Crump are calling for charges
The woman dubbed SoHo Karen has been identified as Miya Ponsetto – who is believed to be a former cheerleader from California.
Ponsetto, 22, was named by The New York Post Thursday in connection with the incident involving a 14-year-old black boy she falsely accused of stealing her iPhone.
She is said to be from Sun Valley and is believed to have gone to Simi Valley High School in California.
It comes after the NYPD released new surveillance footage of the woman tackling the teen to the ground in a New York City hotel.
The video, shared on social media Wednesday night by NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison, shows the woman suddenly run at Keyon Harrold Jr. and grab him by the waist in the Arlo Hotel on Saturday.
Its release comes just hours after the 22-year-old woman gave a rambling interview to CNN where she denied racially profiling the boy and claimed it was her who was assaulted in the dispute.
The boy’s father, Grammy-winning African American jazz artist Keyon Harrold, had previously posted separate footage filmed on his smartphone on Instagram.
The woman dubbed SoHo Karen has been identified as Miya Ponsetto – who is believed to be a former cheerleader from California
It showed the woman pushing and grabbing at the father and son, allegedly even scratching Keyon Sr’s hands as she attempted to snatch his cellphone, wrongly believing it to be hers.
Moments after the scuffle concluded, her phone was reportedly found in an Uber and returned to her by the driver.
The ‘Karen’ is yet to be publicly identified with the NYPD telling DailyMail.com Thursday morning her name will not be released unless an arrest is made.
The NYPD confirmed Tuesday they had identified the woman and may charge her with assault, grand larceny or attempted robbery.
The boy’s famous father, mother Kat Rodriguez and civil rights attorney Ben Crump are urging officials to bring charges against her over the incident.
The NYPD has released new surveillance footage of the woman dubbed ‘SoHo Karen’ tackling the 14-year-old son of a black musician to the ground in a New York City hotel while accusing him of stealing her phone
The video, shared on social media Wednesday night by NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison, shows the woman suddenly run at Keyon Harrold Jr. and grab him by the waist in the Arlo Hotel on Saturday
The new footage casts new light on Saturday’s events in the lobby of the Arlo Hotel in Manhattan.
It shows four people – the woman identified as Ponsetto, Keyon, Keyon Jr. and another individual standing at the bottom of the stairs in the lobby.
Keyon Jr. starts to walk away in the direction of the hotel doors.
At this point, the woman runs and grabs the 14-year-old around the waist, latching on to him as the boy’s father runs after them.
They pass through the automatic doors in the lobby as the boy tries to shake her off, turning around as she appears to tackle him to the ground.
A close-up of the woman’s face is shown with ‘wanted’ emblazoned across it as the police urge anyone with information about the woman’s whereabouts to contact the NYPD.
‘On Saturday, December 26, the woman in this video falsely accused an innocent 14-year-old teenager of stealing her cellphone,’ Harrison tweeted.
‘She then proceeded to physically attack him and fled the location before police officers arrived on scene.’
The woman named as Ponsetto gave a 20-minute phone call with CNN – reportedly often rambling at times – claiming that she was assaulted during the altercation with Keyon Sr. and his son, though failed to provide further details, including who allegedly assaulted her.
The 22-year-old’s allegation has not been corroborated by investigators or any witnesses to the December 26 incident.
The new footage casts new light on Saturday’s events in the lobby of the Arlo Hotel in Manhattan. It shows four people – identified as the woman, Keyon, Keyon Jr. and another individual standing at the bottom of the stairs in the lobby
Keyon Jr. starts to walk away in the direction of the hotel doors. At this point, the woman runs and grabs the 14-year-old around the waist, latching on to him as the boy’s father runs after them. They pass through the automatic doors in the lobby as the boy tries to shake her off
The woman appears to tackle the boy to the ground in the altercation. Its release comes just hours after the 22-year-old woman gave a rambling interview to CNN where she denied racially profiling the boy and claimed it was her who was assaulted in the dispute
After she eventually agreed to provide evidence to the network to support the claim, the woman, who lives out of state, reportedly stopped replying to CNN’s messages and calls.
According to the woman – whose name was withheld by the network – the incident was spurred when she first demanded to see the hotel’s surveillance footage to try and pinpoint who may have taken her phone.
After the request was denied, she reportedly then cornered someone else in the lobby to ’empty their pockets’, before turning her attention to Keyon Jr.
‘That’s when everything got a little more serious,’ she said.
It’s currently unclear when the alleged assault was purported to take place. The woman also provided additional information of events preceding and unrelated to the incident, which CNN said it has so far been unable to verify.
Speaking out about her concerns over the possibility of facing charges, she said: ‘Of course I worry. That’s not who I am. I actually… try very hard to make sure that I am always doing the right thing.’
The woman added she is willing to cooperate with any police investigation, but says she has not yet been contacted by investigators, nor has she reached out herself.
The woman’s claims she was assaulted are so far unfounded. She reportedly stopped replying to CNN’s messages after agreeing to provide evidence
Harrold Sr. and Keyon Jr.’s mother, Kat Rodriguez, held a rally in Manhattan for their son on Wednesday, alongside civil rights attorney Ben Crump (right) and Rev. Al Sharpton (left)
Harrold and Keyon Jr.’s mother, Kat Rodriguez, staged a rally in Manhattan on Wednesday alongside their attorney Ben Crump and Reverend Al Sharpton.
‘When I saw this story, I thought about how I was one of those kids whose father never took him anywhere for Christmas, never had brunch with my father,’ Sharpton said.
‘And for this Black man to take his Black son, put him in a hotel during a pandemic, and spend Christmas with him, raising him, and to be assaulted because of the color of their skin, I wanted to stand with this man and this woman who provided for their son, and they’re being criminalized for it. The arrogance and audacity of this woman.’
Harrold added that had he not come down into the lobby with his son when he did, something ‘could have gone very wrong.’
‘The idea of trauma goes above any charge that we may have…I bring my son places where he shouldn’t have to deal with injustices and shouldn’t have to be profiled,’ he said.
An emotional Rodriguez also spoke during the rally, taking her opportunity to let it be known she is unhappy with the way the hotel handled the situation, and also called on ‘SoHo Karen’ to be charged with assault.
‘All that we are asking is for the police to do the right thing, for the DA to do the right thing, to charge this woman with assault of a minor,’ she said.
‘To the hotel, which I’m equally angry at, you are trained to use those tools. I called the hotel right after it happened, and I gave them a chance to make it right, and they didn’t. You know when they made it right? When my tribe, my community spoke up.
‘It breaks my heart that this is happening to our son. This incident could have been avoided in so many ways,’ she said.
Crump, meanwhile, called the incident an example of ‘racial injustice’ – an all-too common narrative that ‘needs to change’.
‘Can you imagine what the narrative would have been if Keyon Harrold had not videoed the incident on his cellphone?’ Crump asked the crowd.
Keyon Harrold Sr. then played a trumpet rendition of ‘America the Beautiful’ and ‘We Shall Overcome,’ drawing applause and a few tears, according to ABC7.
At one point in the video the woman is shown on the floor. It’s unclear where this has anything to do with her claims of assault
Kat Rodriguez, center, mother of Keyon Harrold Jr. speaks as attorney Ben Crump, right, Rev. Al Sharpton, left, and Keyon Harrold Sr. listen during a news conference on Wednesday
SoHo hotel racial profiling: Rev. Al Sharpton calls on NYPD to publicly identify and charge a woman who falsely accused a Black teen of stealing her phone.
No decision has yet been made by either the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office or the NYPD as to whether the woman will be charged.
Keyon Sr first shared footage of the incident on Instagram, writing that he and his son had left their room to get breakfast when they came into contact with the woman in the lobby.
It’s unclear what happened in the moments before he started filming, but in the video, the woman can be heard screaming at Keyon Jr., telling him to show her his phone.
The one-minute-long video shows the woman and the hotel manager in the lobby with Harrold recording on his cell phone.
‘This is my phone,’ Harrold’s son, who is not seen in the footage, is heard telling the woman and the manager.
‘You don’t have to explain nothing to her,’ Harrold tells his son.
The woman then points to the phone and tells the manager that the case is the same one that she has.
‘That’s mine,’ she tells the manager. She then tells the manager: ‘Get it back.’
Harrold responds to the woman, saying: ‘Are you kidding me? You feel like there’s only one iPhone made in the world?’
When the woman asks Harrold to see the phone, he replies: ‘No, get a life.’
Harrold then tells the woman that she should use the Find My app, which helps locate missing Apple devices.
The woman then tells Harrold that the Find My app can only be accessed through the phone.
The video then shows the manager approach Harrold’s son asking him to see the phone.
‘No, you can’t,’ Harrold tells the manager.
‘I’m the manager of the hotel,’ the manager tells Harrold, who replies: ‘I don’t care!’
The incident happened in the lobby of the boutique Arlo Hotel last Saturday
Arlo Hotels apologized for the ‘recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice, assault against an innocent guest of Arlo hotel’ on Instagram saying: ‘No Arlo guest – or any person – should be subject to this kind of behavior. We want to apologize to Mr. Harrold and his son for this inexcuseable experience, and have reached out to them directly to express our sincere regret and to offer help in dealing with the traumatic event’
During the exchange, the woman continues to encourage the manager to retrieve what she believes is her iPhone.
Harrold tries to plead his case, saying it wasn’t plausible that his son would have someone else’s phone since he just got to the lobby from the elevator.
‘Didn’t you see me just come downstairs out of the f***ing elevator?’ Harrold tells the manager.
The manager protests, saying: ‘I’m trying to help.’
Harrold replies: ‘My son has nothing to do with her.’
The woman once again repeats her demand to see the phone, saying: ‘No, he’s not leaving. Show me the proof.’
Harrold refuses and begins to walk away from the lobby toward what appear to be the elevators.
‘You better get on,’ Harrold tells the woman.
The woman, who appears to be highly distressed, walks toward Harrold and his son, saying: ‘No, I’m not letting him walk away with my phone.’
While the video is not clear, the woman appears to lunge toward Harrold and his son.
In the next frame, she is seen on the ground as the manager helps her back to her feet.
‘No, please get my phone back,’ the woman begs the manager.
The video clip ends with the woman once again approaching Harrold in an attempt to get the phone.
In one frame, she is seen on the ground as the manager helps her back to her feet
Keyon Harrold Sr. played the trumpet during the news conference, which was held as officials weigh charging the woman
Harrold told The New York Times that the woman tackled his son and tried to look into his pockets before being physically separated from him.
The Trumpeter said he suffered slight injuries in the incident though his son was not harmed.
Keyon Jr. spoke alongside his father to ABC on Tuesday, telling the network he’s still ‘shell shocked’ over what happened.
‘I don’t know what would have happened if my dad wasn’t there. These past few days, still kind of shell-shocked, but I’m hanging in there.
‘For me I was confused because I had never seen that lady ever and I didn’t know what to do in the moment. That’s why I was happy to have my dad here to help me,’ he said.
Earlier this week, New York City Mayor De Blasio on Twitter called the incident ‘racism. Plain and simple.’
‘It would be horrific at any age, but it’s especially offensive that it happened to a child,’ he wrote. ‘To Keyon Harrold Jr. and his family: I am so sorry this happened to you.’
Amid the fallout, Arlo Hotels has also apologized for its role in the incident, saying its workers could have done better to ‘de-escalate the dispute.’
‘We’re deeply disheartened about the recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo hotel,’ a company statement said.
‘In investigating the incident further, we’ve learned that the manager on duty promptly called the police regarding the woman’s conduct and that hotel security intervened to prevent further violence …. No Arlo guest – or any person – should be subject to this kind of behavior.’
Famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump is leading the charge of outrage against the woman’s actions, and also called out the hotel for ’empowering’ her accusations by asking Harrold’s son to prove his innocence.
‘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,’ Crump said in a statement.
‘We strongly urge Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. to bring assault and battery charges against this woman to send the message that hateful, racially motivated behavior is unacceptable,’ Crump added. ‘This is what it will take to drive change. We also call for a civil rights investigation into the Arlo Hotel for its implicit bias in its treatment of Keyon.’
While authorities ensure they have identified the woman in the video, online, outraged social media users are attempting to track her down themselves.
One social media influencer who was pictured at the hotel three days before the incident has posted a denial to Instagram that she is the ‘Karen’ after being bombarded with abuse.
‘Her time will come, she will pay’: Woman who denied she is ‘SoHo Karen’ hits out at trolls who doxxed her and the woman who assaulted black teen
A woman who has repeatedly denied she is the ‘SoHo Karen’ has hit out at trolls who doxxed her on social media and said the real ‘Karen’ who assaulted the black teen in the Arlo Hotel ‘will pay’.
Cassandra Medina, a registered nurse from Staten Island, was bombarded with abuse on social media this week as people accused her of being the woman in the video.
She blasted the social media users for their ‘hate’ in an Instagram story Thursday morning and revealed people had ‘wished death’ on her and ‘come after my family and friends’ after falsely identifying her as the suspect.
‘So before 2020 ends i’d like to say I will be praying for the ugly and hate to stop in this world and for peace for those of you who harassed and said such disgusting things to me – wishing death on me, attempting to ruin my career, spreading my phone number and address and also coming after my family and friends,’ she wrote in the story.
She wished her accusers ‘peace’ while warning the real culprit of Saturday’s attack that ‘her time will come and she WILL pay’.
‘For those of you who personally know me know I do more for my community than the world will ever know,’ she wrote.
Cassandra Medina posted this image of her at the Harold’s restaurant in the Arlo SoHo last week
She has repeatedly denied she is the ‘SoHo Karen’ and posted this Instagram story Thursday hitting out at trolls who accused her and saying the real ‘Karen’ ‘will pay’
‘I am a front line worker and sacrifice my life everyday.
‘I wouldn’t be caught dead or alive accusing/hurting another person.
‘Her time will come and she WILL pay.’
The Instagrammer was forced to defend herself this week after photos on her Instagram account showed her at the hotel last week and people jumped to accuse her of being ‘SoHo Karen’ online.
Medina posted a message on her Instagram Sunday saying: ‘I’ve been tagged all morning in this video and this is not me.It’s not ok to be falsely accused on social media and I wouldn’t want that happening to anyone.’
She also addressed Harrold in her post, saying: ‘I hope you find truely (sic) who this person is because what she did is disgusting and this hotel should be held accountable.’
Medina has also changed her Instagram bio to read ‘That person in the video is not me’.
Her account, which has 1,792 followers, shows pictures of her at the Arlo in SoHo and NoMad.
The NYPD is yet to reveal the identity of the woman.
Medina changed her Instagram bio to read: ‘That person in the video is not me’
‘I’ve been tagged all morning in this video and this is not me,’ she wrote on her Instagram account on Sunday. ‘It’s not ok to be falsely accused on social media and I wouldn’t want that happening to anyone.
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