VIDEO:US woman charged with hate crime after wrongly accusing black teenager of stealing her phone and
the footage of the incident went viral
Miya Ponsetto charged with hate crime after falsely accusing Black teen of phone theft
Ponsetto pleaded not guilty on Wednesday. Her attorney Paul D’Emilia slammed the charges as “absurd.”
A US woman who wrongly accused a black teenager of taking her phone at a hotel in New York City last year has been charged with a hate crime.
Video footage showed 22-year-old Miya Ponsetto chasing and tackling the 14-year-old after accusing him of theft. Her phone was later found in a taxi.
In addition to the charge of unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, she has been charged with aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child.
She has pleaded not guilty.
The incident took place in December in the lobby of the Arlo Hotel in Manhattan. Footage of it went viral after it was posted online by Grammy award-winning trumpeter Keyon Harrold – the father of the boy Ms Ponsetto falsely accused.
At the time, Mr Harrold said the incident had “traumatised” his son, Keyon Harrold Jr.
Keyon’s family and legal team welcomed the charges at a press conference on Wednesday.
Family lawyer Ben Crump said “God knows what would have happened” if Keyon’s father was not there.
In an interview in January, Ms Ponsetto told CBS: “I wasn’t racial profiling whatsoever”.
“I’m Puerto Rican. I’m, like, a woman of colour,” she said.
Ms Ponsetto’s lawyer, Paul D’Emilia, called the charges “absurd, and a perversion of our legal system”.
“The charges alleged are a brazen and clear overreach of the intent of the statute. 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. Shameful.”
The teen’s father shared a minute-long video of the encounter to his social media. In it, Ponsetto is seen accosting Harrold and his son, yelling, “Show me my phone!” as she follows them in the hotel lobby.
Security camera footage later showed a 10-second clip where Ponsetto appears to put her arms around the teenage boy in an attempt to tackle him to the ground.
Ms Ponsetto’s next court date is scheduled for 20 October.