In the second segment of CBS anchor Gayle King’s interview with the 22-year-old woman facing criminal charges of assaulting a Black teen she’d accused of stealing her phone in December, Miya Ponsetto remained dismissive of King and told the anchor she cannot be racist because she’s a woman of color.
Ponsetto was arrested last week at her home in Piru, California, in connection with a caught-on-camera December incident at a New York City hotel in which she falsely accused jazz musician Keyon Harrold’s 14-year-old son Keyon Harrold Jr. of stealing her iPhone. Ponsetto is seen on hotel surveillance footage tackling the teen and attempting to check his pockets. Harrold Jr. was never in possession of Ponsetto’s phone.
Ponsetto was arrested just hours after the interview was completed and charged with attempted robbery, attempted grand larceny, endangering the welfare of a child, and attempted assault.
In the second portion of the interview released Monday, Ponsetto continued to downplay her actions, dismissed accusations of racism, and minimized the age difference between her and teenager.
When King mentioned that Keyon Jr. has said he’s been “traumatized” by the incident, Ponsetto interjected, “I’m traumatized!”
“You’re traumatized too?” King questioned.
“Yes, and I’m sorry, I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart.” Ponsetto then seemed to question the teen’s age, saying, “He’s 14? That’s what they’re claiming. I’m 22. I lived probably just the same amount of life as him, like, honestly. I’m just as a kid at heart as he is.”
Harrold Sr. told TMZ earlier this month that his son is seeking therapy to cope with the incident. He said the teen is now questioning whether he’s good enough to own an iPhone and is showing fear of staying in hotels.
Ponsetto, who described herself as Puerto Rican, Greek and Italian, once again dismissed accusations that she racially profiled the teenager. “I wasn’t racial profiling whatsoever,” Ponsetto told King, “I’m Puerto Rican. I’m, like, a woman of color.”
“You keep saying you’re Puerto Rican. Does that mean that you can’t be racist because you’re saying you’re a woman of color. Is that what you mean?” King asked.
“Exactly,” Ponsetto responded.
In an interview with the teen’s parents that aired Monday, Harrold Sr. told King he was “happy” to see Ponsetto arrested. “That’s only the first step in a very big conversation that needs to happen here in America that has to do with racial profiling,” he added.
He told King he believes Ponsetto’s apology was “as genuine as when she shushed you.” Adding, “It said a lot. I have an issue with the idea of entitlement versus character. It’s all been tragically consistent. I’ll just say that.”
The couple also were at a rally outside City Hall on Monday with civil rights attorney Ben Crump and the Rev. Al Sharpton where they set the tone for a possible boycott of the hotel.
“When Arlo SoHo hotel sided with [Ponsetto] and asked my son, a patron of the hotel, to show his phone to the manager, they violated my son’s rights,” Rodriguez said.
“This is why this is a racial issue. Because they questioned him but did not question her. They sided with her right away,” she added.
Sharpton eluded to mass protest and “checkouts” if the hotel and its parent company don’t make the family “whole” again.
“If we do not have this family made whole by what the Arlo hotel and the owners of the Arlo hotel, Quadrum, does by next week, we will begin, since we’re a national organization, to put people in front of their hotels,” Sharpton said.
“And we will start right here at the Arlo and have mass checkouts. Rather than checking in, they need to check out. Show you stand against racism by checking out,” he said.
Ponsetto’s attorney, Sharen H. Ghatan, who was present beside her throughout the interview, acknowledged that her client had gone off script.
“The bottom line is this issue is much bigger than I think Miya is appreciating, and she sees it as a very simple thing,” Ghatan said.
King said Ponsetto repeatedly interrupted Ghatan, and that the 22-year-old disregarded her attorney’s advice. “I really felt bad for the attorney,” King said, while reflecting on the interview. “I think it’s hard when you have a client that doesn’t pay attention to what you’re saying.”