Miya Ponsetto — also known as SoHo Karen, or that one girl who wore a "Daddy" hat while talking to Gayle King — is now facing a lawsuit for racially profiling and attacking 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr. According to the suit, Ponsetto "chased" Harrold Jr. around the hotel, "tackled" him, and "began to grab at his pants and rummage through his pockets in an attempt to steal his phone." Ironically, Ponsetto did this because she claimed that the teenager stole her phone. Harrold Jr.’s family is also suing the Arlo Hotel and manager Chad Nathan, who "aided and abetted" the crime, for negligence.
"The episode was yet another instance of African Americans being harmed by baseless accusations while going about their daily life," said the lawsuit. "In this case, racial profiling spiralled into a violent and frightening assault against an innocent African-American child."
On December 26, Keyon Harrold Sr., the victim's father and a Grammy Award-winning trumpeter, shared a video of Ponsetto lashing out at his son. "This person quote on quote 'lost' her iPhone, and apparently, my son magically acquired it," Harrold Sr. wrote on Instagram. "This incident went on for five more minutes, me protecting my son from this lunatic. She scratched me; she tackled and grabbed him." In the video, which went viral, an Arlo Hotel manager failed to deescalate the situation and even pushed Harrold Jr. to pull out his phone. Minutes after the confrontation, Ponsetto's iPhone was found by an Uber driver.
Ponsetto was arrested on January 7, and faces charges of attempted assault, grand larceny, attempted robbery, and acting in a manner injurious to a child. She has gone to great lengths to dodge accountability, especially in a mind-boggling conversation with Gayle King. At one point in the CBS This Morning interview, she put her hand up and said "enough" in an attempt to silence King; at another, she asked, "How is one girl accusing a guy about a phone a crime?" She said she was "sincerely" sorry if Harrold Sr. and Harrold Jr. "feel as if I assaulted him" or if she "hurt his feelings." Ponsetto is due back in court on March 29.
Per the lawsuit, Harrold Jr. struggled with physical and emotional pain, embarrassment, and "an increased sense of vulnerability" in the aftermath of the attack. His parents said that he is currently working through feelings of sadness and confusion in therapy.
"Thank God that this strong Black father was there, and stood up for his child," Benjamin Crump, the Harrolds' attorney, said at a press conference on Wednesday. "Imagine if he had resisted. What might have happened if the NYPD showed up and saw a Black man defending himself against a white woman? What would have happened?"