Jeremiah Harvey, the 9-year-old Black child falsely accused of groping a white woman inside a New York City bodega, said he doesn’t accept the woman’s apology.
“I don’t forgive this woman, and she needs help,” Harvey said this week.
Tears streamed down the youngster’s face Monday as he spoke at a community meeting addressing the alleged groping incident, ABC News reported. The meeting, organized by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, comes nearly a week after 53-year-old Teresa Klein claimed the child “sexually assaulted” her at the Sahara Deli and dialed police.
Viral video of the incident shows Klein, aka “Cornerstore Caroline,” demanding police be sent to the store immediately as Harvey and his younger sister are heard wailing for their mother, Someko Bellille, in the background.
“No, I want the cops here right now,” Klein is heard saying in the video, presumably on the phone with police. “That’s right, the son grabbed my ass! And, she [the mother] decided to yell at me. There are security cameras in this bodega.”
Klein later apologized after surveillance footage from the store showed it was actually the child’s large book bag that had brushed against her backside. Harvey’s hands, which were in plain sight, never touched her like Klein had alleged.
“Young man, I don’t know your name but I’m sorry,” Klein said, acknowledging her anger was actually directed at the boy’s mother. She said it was Bellille’s “aggressive” behavior that prompted her to dial police, and accused the woman of flashing a badge in her face before purporting to be a police officer.
Witness video, however, shows Klein shouting “I’m a cop,” while surveillance from the deli shows Harvey’s mother flash an object at Klein as they argue at the front counter.
Adams has since called on the NYPD to investigate whether Klein broke the law by allegedly impersonating an officer and likened the incident to a “modern-day Emmett Till moment.”
“There’s no excuse for Ms. Klein’s behavior at the Sahara Deli in Flatbush on Wednesday,” the borough president said in a statement. “We need to be clear: there are consequences for outlandish and threatening public behavior that seeks to intimidate innocent bystanders, especially children.”
Bellille, Harvey’s mother, also spoke at Monday’s meeting, asking the crowd, “”What happened to us respecting one another, having unity and being neighborly?”
“Friendship is really the key,” Harvey chimed in.
Watch more in the clip below.