NEW YORK — A woman who wrongly accused a Black teenager of stealing her phone and then tackled him while being filmed at a New York City hotel in December was arraigned Wednesday on hate crime charges.
Miya Ponsetto pleaded not guilty to second-degree unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, as well as aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child. She remains on supervised release.
The incident took place in December at the Arlo Hotel in SoHo after Ponsetto accused 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr., the son of jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold, of stealing her phone.
Harrold captured the incident with his son on video and posted it to social media.
Security footage later released by the NYPD shows Ponsetto grabbing at the teenager as he tries to get away from her through the hotel’s front door. She clutches him from behind, and both tumble to the ground.
Ponsetto’s missing phone had actually been left in an Uber and was returned by the driver shortly afterward, Keyon Harrold has said.
Ponsetto’s lawyer blasted Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's decision to move forward with the case.
"The charges alleged are a brazen and clear overreach of the intent of the statute,” Paul D’Emilia said in a statement. "In sum, they are absurd, and a perversion of our legal system. As truly violent criminals maraud and run rampant through New York City, this DA exhibits zero interest in law-enforcement and prosecution. Instead, he turns his prosecutorial fury on a distraught and panicked young woman stranded without her lifeline, her phone, thousands of miles from home."
This story includes reporting from the Associated Press.
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