Less than a month after falsely accusing a Black teen of stealing her iPhone and tackling him, Miya Ponsetto’s attorney is defending the California woman. She said the disturbing incident, which took place at New York’s Arlo Hotel on Dec. 26 “wasn’t a race-related issue.”
“Things took a life of their own,” attorney Sharon Ghatan — who is representing Ponsetto in unrelated cases — told NBC News. “Miya is young, she let her emotions get the best of her. That phone could have been in hand of 90-year-old grandma, an Asian person … someone Black or blue.”
Ponsetto was dubbed “SoHo Karen” after footage of her accusing Keyon Harrold Jr. of stealing her iPhone went viral. Harrold is the son of the famed Grammy-winning jazz musician of the same name, who recorded the incident and posted it to social media.
The video shows the 22-year-old Ponsetto telling the manager to “Take the case off, that’s mine, literally, get it back.” The manager then asks the younger Harrold to show him the phone, despite his claims the phone he had was his. Then his father intervened.
“Are you kidding me? You feel like there’s only one iPhone made in the world?’” Harrold Sr. said, refusing to let the manager take his son’s phone. “Get a life, you better go use ‘Find My iPhone,’ go do that,” he told Ponsetto.
Eventually Ponsetto tackled the 14-year-old after which his father defended him and told Ponsetto to “get your hands off!”
The Harrold family said they made a decision to publicly post the video of the incident after the security guard at the hotel let Ponsetto leave before the police arrived.
Ghatan said Ponsetto was in an “emotional, anxious state” when she “made a mistake” and attacked Harrold Jr. “She lost her mind for a hot minute. She is sorry,” Ghatan said. “Sadly these poor Harrolds had to deal with the aftermath.”
She added her client was in a “very fragile” state and wanted to “move forward and put this behind her.”
Ghatan’s comments came two days after Ponsetto was spotted at a McDonald’s in California. She told a New York Post reporter “I’m good, thank you” when he asked if she had any regrets over what happened.
When the reporter asked Ponsetto why she attacked Harrold Jr. and noted he was young, she responded, “I’m actually 22, so I don’t know what the problem is here — and I’m also Puerto Rican, so thank you. Take care of yourself.” She then got in her car and drove away.
The Harrold family has retained famed civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump to represent them in the matter and is calling for Ponsetto to be charged with assault and battery. While NYPD officials said they have plans to travel to California to find her, she has yet to be arrested and charged by authorities. Harrold Jr. said he was traumatized by his encounter with Ponsetto, who got into legal trouble twice last year on charges of public intoxication and battery and driving under the influence, respectively.
“I don’t know what would have happened if my dad wasn’t there. These past few days, still kind of shell-shocked, but I’m hanging in there,” Harrold Jr. said. “For me I was confused because I had never seen that lady ever and I didn’t know what to do in the moment. That’s why I was happy to have my dad here to help me.”
His parents said they are seeking a good therapist for Harrold Jr. and he’s now uncomfortable staying in hotels, which they frequent due to his father’s career.
“I can’t even come downstairs in New York City — prime New York City — and just go brunch without being attacked and wrongfully accused of something,” Harrold Sr. said. “The idea of trauma goes above any charge that could ever be had. … I want my son to grow up whole.”
Since the incident the Arlo Hotel has issued a public apology to the family, however, Ponsetto has not. According to Ghatan, Ponsetto desires to apologize and has reached out to Crump; but she said her client has yet to hear back.
“She’s very sorry about it,” Ghatan told Daily News. “It’s horrible, what happened. She certainly should not have done that. She has some things she has to work through with herself, control issues, anger management issues. Of course she knows that.”