The woman dubbed ‘Soho Karen’ – Miya Ponsetto – has been seen for the first time since being named as the person who assaulted a 14-year-old black boy at a New York City hotel in a row over a phone.
By Ruth Styles For Dailymail.com and Alan Butterfield For Dailymail.com
Seen in exclusive DailyMail.com photos, the 22-year-old made a quick trip to a McDonald’s in Fillmore, California – her first outing since being unmasked as the woman who accosted Keyon Harrold Jr at the Arlo Hotel last weekend.
The 22-year-old has been laying low at her family’s $389,000 home in the small town of Piru, a small farming town approximately 30 miles north of LA.
Yesterday, her mother Nicole, 42, became angry when asked about her daughter and ordered a DailyMail.com reporter off the property while insisting she was not there.
But earlier today, a black-clad Ponsetto was seen leaving the home and heading to McDonald’s in a black Range Rover SUV.
And despite facing potential assault and attempted robbery charges in New York, the 22-year-old appeared relaxed and was smiling broadly as she grabbed her order.
Ponsetto’s reappearance comes a day after DailyMail.com revealed that she is also facing court proceedings in LA after being arrested for being intoxicated in public by Beverly Hills PD in February.
Her mother Nicole was also collared along with her on the same charge and hit with an additional count of assaulting a police officer.
Both women are due in court for a hearing on the case on January 28.
Ponsetto was arrested for a second time in May and charged with four counts of DUI. Court records show she pled guilty in September and faces a sentencing hearing on January 14.
The 22-year-old’s legal problems now look set to increase, with the NYPD considering bringing charges against her over the December 26 incident.
Cops confirmed on Tuesday that they are looking at a variety of options, including assault, grand larceny and attempted robbery.
Ponsetto shot to infamy after Keyon Jr’s father, Grammy-winning jazz artist Keyon Harrold, posted a video of the 22-year-old grabbing at the child while repeatedly accusing him of snatching her phone.
He captioned it: ‘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.’
A second video released by the NYPD shows Ponsetto, who was swiftly dubbed Soho Karen, running at the child and grabbing at his waist.
Moments after the video ended, an Uber driver arrived with Ponsetto’s phone, which she had left in the vehicle.
Harrold, along with Keyon’s mother Kat Rodriguez and civil rights attorney Ben Crump are now urging officials to bring charges against her over the incident.
Ponsetto has denied assaulting Keyon and on Thursday, provided a rambling 20-minute phone interview to CNN.
In it, she claimed she was assaulted during the altercation with Keyon Sr. and his son, though failed to provide further details, including who allegedly assaulted her.
Her allegation has not been corroborated by investigators or any witnesses to the December 26 incident.
On Tuesday, NYPD confirmed 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 new footagereleased by NYPD 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 onto 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.’
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 to 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.
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.
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. He said the woman had been staying at the hotel but had checked out three days earlier.
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!’
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.
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.’