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She Said Black Teen Took Her Phone. Now She's Arrested

Miya Ponsetto allegedly assaulted Black teen she wrongly accused of theft
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2021 11:57 AM CST

(Newser) – A woman accused of attacking a Black teenager whom she falsely accused of theft in New York has been arrested across the country in California. Miya Ponsetto, 22—whom some are calling the new Amy Cooper or the "SoHo Karen"—was seized in her home state days after the family of 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr. called for her to face charges over what they say was a racially charged incident at Manhattan's Arlo Hotel, per the AP. Keyon's father filmed as Ponsetto demanded that the teen hand over his phone, believing he had stolen hers, on Dec. 26. A surveillance video shows Ponsetto—who describes herself as Puerto Rican, per TMZ—eventually tackled Keyon as he tried to leave the hotel, resulting in both falling to the ground. She fled before police arrived. Keyon's father says the woman's phone had actually been left in an Uber, whose driver soon returned it.

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Ponsetto's lawyer, Sharen Ghatan, confirms the Uber detail, per NBC News. Ghatan says that Ponsetto was planning to check in and left her belongings unattended in the lobby to visit a restroom. Seeing her phone was missing, she asked several people if they'd taken it before confronting Keyon, Ghatan adds, claiming race was not a factor. Ponsetto, who is "emotionally and mentally unwell," was alone and anxious in an unfamiliar city and "lost her mind for a hot minute," Ghatan adds. "She is sorry." Met by Ventura County sheriff's deputies while driving in Piru on Thursday, Ponsetto initially failed to pull over, then refused to exit her car and "tried to slam the door on one of the deputies," Capt. Eric Buschow said; she was forcibly removed. She's to be extradited to New York to face charges of resisting arrest, attempted robbery, and assault, per TMZ. (Read more assault stories.)

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