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'Soho Karen,' suspect in NYC hotel viral iPhone assault case, arrested in California

Jeremy Childs, Ventura County Star
·3 min read
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A 22-year-old California woman was arrested Thursday afternoon for her suspected involvement in a viral Dec. 26 confrontation at a New York hotel, where she accused a 14-year-old Black teenager of stealing her iPhone.

Authorities, who were working with New York Police Department to serve Miya Ponsetto with a fugitive warrant, arrested her after a traffic stop near her residence in Ventura County, near Los Angeles. Deputies reported Ponsetto did not stop for authorities until she reached her home. Officers ended up forcibly removing her from her vehicle after she refused to get out, deputies said.

The warrant stems from an incident that occurred two weeks earlier on Dec. 26 at the Arlo Hotel in New York City. Ponsetto was identified soon afterward, though her identity was initially withheld by the police and press.

The altercation first came to public attention when jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold posted a video of the confrontation to his Instagram account.

In the video, Ponsetto accuses Harrold's 14-year-old son, Keyon Harrold Jr., of stealing her iPhone. The accusations later proved to be false after Ponsetto's iPhone was returned to her by an Uber driver shortly after the video was filmed.

More: Santa Paula man arrested after New Year's domestic violence incident

The video drew outcry on the Internet due to the false accusations leveled against a Black minor with no evidence to their veracity. Viewers quickly dubbed Ponsetto "Soho Karen." It gained nearly 3 million views on Instagram alone.

Ponsetto and her attorney spoke with CBS This Morning host Gayle King Thursday, hours before her arrest.

In an excerpt of the interview, set to air Monday, she acknowledged that she could "have approached the situation differently and not yelled" at Herrold Jr. or "made him feel sort of inferior" but maintained she "never meant for it to hurt him or his father."

When King noted that her reaction on the video was "extreme" and not that of someone "super sweet" as Ponsetto claimed to be, she countered, "How would you feel if you were alone in New York, going to spend time with your family during the holidays, and you lose the one thing that gets stolen from you that has all the access to the only way you're able to get back home?"

Actually, King, said: "It looks like you're going nuts, for lack of a better term."

When the journalist noted that the video appeared to show her attacking the 14-year-old, Posetto said his father "slammed me to the ground and pulled my hair."

Later Thursday, the Herrold family released a statement to CBS saying: "This is not about an apology from someone who, until a few days ago, was claiming she did nothing wrong, and in fact, alleged Keyon Harrold Sr. had assaulted her." Rather it said, it was about "someone who targeted a 14-year-old Black child because of the color of his skin."

Ponsetto was booked into the Ventura County jail, where she is being held without bail due to the fugitive warrant. She is due to appear in Superior Court at 1:30 p.m. PST Friday, according to online jail records.

'Soho Karen' case: Woman tackles Black teen in hotel, falsely accuses him of stealing her phone, musician says

Jeremy Childs is a breaking news and public safety reporter covering the night shift for the Ventura County Star. He can be reached by calling 805-437-0208 or emailing jeremy.childs@vcstar.com. You can also find him on Twitter @Jeremy_Childs.

This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: 'Soho Karen' arrested: Suspect from NYC hotel case held without bail