The parents of Keyon Harrold Jr., the Black teen who Miya Ponsetto was seen on video in December physically attacking over a falsely stolen iPhone, are now suing the woman and the hotel they say enabled her behavior.
On Wednesday, Keyon Harrold Sr. and Kat Rodriguez announced that they have filed a lawsuit against 22-year-old Ponsetto and Chad Nathan, the employee at the Arlo Hotel in the Soho section of New York City, who was seen on the viral video asking their son to hand over his phone after the woman claimed—with no evidence—that it was hers. Ponsetto’s phone was later returned by an Uber driver after she had already tackled the Black teen in the lobby of the hotel where he and his father were guests. Arlo Hotel is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
“It might seem small to you, but the incident that happened on December 26 could’ve been deescalated before our son was attacked. The incident could’ve been prevented by the Arlo Hotel,” Rodriguez said at a press conference announcing the lawsuit, reports CBS News.
From CBS News:
According to the lawsuit, Nathan “detained the plaintiffs and demanded that Keyon Harrold Jr. surrender his cellphone.”
“Defendants treated plaintiffs differently from other guests and invitees in a place of public accommodation because of their race ... The only difference between plaintiffs Keyon Harrold and Keyon Harrold Jr. and the other guests who were not targeted by defendants Chad Nathan and Miya Ponsetto was the color of their skin,” the lawsuit states, claiming the defendants violated New York City’s Human Rights Law that prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, housing and employment.
“What the Arlo Hotel did here is simple: They violated the human rights law of New York City ... that requires hotels and other places of accommodation to treat all of their guests, whether white or Black, the same. And Arlo failed to do that,” said Paul Napoli, a lawyer representing the family in the lawsuit, according to NBC News.
In a hot mess of an interview with Gayle King in January, Ponsetto herself struggled to articulate why she pinpointed the Black teen as a thief out of all the other people present at the Arlo Hotel. Despite physically going after the child, she painted herself as the victim in the situation, saying, “Basically, I’m a 22-year-old girl. How is one girl accusing a guy about a phone, a crime?”
That’s a question she’ll have to put to the criminal legal system, as Ponsetto was arrested shortly after that interview, extradited to New York and charged with attempted robbery, attempted assault, grand larceny and acting in a manner injurious to a child.
A lawyer representing her in that criminal case says Ponsetto has not been informed of the civil lawsuit against her and is at home in California. A hearing in her criminal case is scheduled for Monday.