Woman who accused Black teen of stealing her phone charged with attempted assault

Woman who accused Black teen of stealing her phone charged with attempted assault
© Getty Images

Miya Ponsetto, the 22-year-old California woman who tackled a Black teen and accused him of stealing her iPhone in December, was arraigned and charged in criminal court on Saturday in New York.

Ponsetto is charged with attempted robbery, grand larceny, acting in a manner injurious to a child and two counts of attempted assault, according to a statement from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.'s office obtained by The Hill. 

Judge Michael Frishman granted Ponsetto supervised release with no monetary bail. In addition, Grammy award-winning jazz musician Keyon Harrold and his son Keyon Harrold Jr., the 14-year-old victim who Ponsetto attacked, were granted orders of protection.


Ponsetto was arrested Thursday in California for her attack on the teen at the Arlo SoHo boutique hotel in New York City on Dec. 26. Video footage of the incident released by police shows Ponsetto accusing Harrold of stealing her missing cell phone and then lunging at him and taking him to the floor after he informed her that she was mistaken.

According to The New York Times, Ponsetto's phone turned up later at the hotel after an Uber driver returned it.

Ponsetto was transferred to NYPD custody shortly after her arrest, during which she resisted, CBS reported.

While she has no criminal convictions, Ponsetto has three open cases in California, the Manhattan District Attorney's office said. She will next appear in court on March 29, 2021.

After footage of the encounter went viral many accused Ponsetto, dubbed the "SoHo Karen," of racially profiling Harrold.

On Thursday, Ponsetto's lawyer spoke publicly about the incident, saying that the teen's race wasn't a motivating factor for her actions.


"That phone could have been in hand of 90-year-old grandma, an Asian person ... someone Black or blue," attorney Sharen Ghatan said, according to NBC News. Her actions were the result of her letting "her emotions get the best of her" since she is "young," Ghatan added.

Ghatan did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.

However, during a video interview with CBS's Gayle KingGayle KingMichelle Obama: 'You wanna hang out with us? Get your vaccine' The Memo: The Obamas unbound, on race Michelle Obama praises BLM, says she fears for daughters MORE, Ponsetto apologized for hurting the boy's feelings, but defended her actions.

"Racism is..." Ponsetto started saying before trailing off, adding, "How is one girl accusing a guy about a phone a crime?"

Ben Crump, the civil rights activist and attorney representing 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr., previously called for a "civil rights investigation" into the incident. Police told CBS News they're not looking into the case as a bias incident.