Family of Black Teen Falsely Accused of Stealing Cell Phone Files Lawsuit Against Prosecutor, Hotel
The 22-year-old woman who blamed the teen was later reunited with her phone – after an Uber driver found out she left it in the car.
The family of a black teenager falsely accused of stealing a cell phone from a hotel guest has filed a lawsuit seeking redress for the judiciary’s wrongful decision.
According to CBS News, 22-year-old Miya Ponsetto falsely accused 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr. of stealing her mobile device in the lobby of the Arlo Hotel in Manhattan.
Harrold’s father, CBS notes, recorded the confrontation on his own cell phone. The shot of the older Harrold shows how Ponsetto insults the teenager and then physically attacks him.
Soon after, Ponsetto managed to retrieve her phone from an Uber driver who found it in the back of her vehicle.
The lawsuit lists as defendants:
- Prosecutor Miya Ponsetto
- The Arlo Hotel
- Arlo manager Chad Nathan
In the complaint, both Ponsetto and Nathan are accused of race profiling, while the hotel is accused of general negligence.
Nathan, according to the complaint, appeared to stand unconditionally on Ponsetto’s side and refused to listen to Harrold’s account of the events. In fact, Nathan reportedly went so far as to “arrest the plaintiffs and [demand] Keyon Harrold Jr. handing over his cell phone. “
Police officer; Image courtesy of cocoparisienne via Pixabay, www.pixabay.com
“The defendants treated the plaintiffs differently from other guests because of their race and invited them to public accommodation,” the lawsuit said. “The only difference between Plaintiffs Keyon Harrold and Keyon Harrold Jr. and the other guests who were not attacked by Defendants Chad Nathan and Miya Ponsetto was the color of their skin.”
The lawsuit suggests that the hotel and its management have violated New York City Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in relation to housing, employment, and public housing.
Lawyer Paul Napoli, who represents the family alongside the well-known civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, explained the position of his clients towards the hotel.
“” What the Arlo Hotel did here is simple: you violated New York City human rights law […] This requires hotels and other accommodations to treat all of their guests, white or black, equally. And the Arlo didn’t do that, ”said Napoli.
Ponsetto was arrested at her California home earlier this year, according to CBS. She was then extradited to New York City, where she was charged with attempted assault, attempted robbery, grand theft and “conduct that harms a child.”
In her defense, Ponsetto says she simply decided that anyone who leaves the Arlo Hotel could be the one who took her phone.
“I was approaching the people who had left the hotel because, in my opinion, probably everyone who leaves the hotel is the one who is trying to steal my phone,” she said. “I admit, yes, I could have approached the situation differently or maybe I couldn’t have yelled at him like that and made him feel like somehow inferior and made him feel like I hurt his feelings because that’s not my intention . “
Ponsetto also suggests that she didn’t “attack” Harrold Jr. The footage only shows her verbally abusing the teenager and grabbing his hand.
“Shouting at him? Okay, I apologize, ”said Ponsetto. “Can we continue?”
The Arlo Hotel had previously apologized for forcing the Harrold family to endure “an unfounded charge, prejudice and assault against an innocent guest”.[commitment] to make sure this doesn’t happen again in any of our hotels. “
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