Miya Ponsetto, a California woman that was filmed attacking a 14-year-old boy in a New York City hotel over a cell phone, has been charged with a federal hate crime.
Ponsetto pleaded not guilty to charges of unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment, and endangering the welfare of a child during a virtual arraignment in Manhattan.
In December, Ponsetto was filmed at the Arlo Hotel attacking Keyon Harrold Jr. whom she accused of stealing her cell phone.
The cell phone was located in an Uber and returned to her shortly after the incident.
The 22-year-old woman appeared in an interview with Gayle King on CBS This Morning in January.
“I wasn’t racial profiling whatsoever,” Ponsetto said during the infamous interview with King. “I’m Puerto Rican. I’m, like, a woman of color.”
Paul D’Emilia, Ponsetto’s attorney, believes that prosecutors should focus on “truly violent criminals.”
“The charges alleged are a brazen and clear overreach of the intent of the statute,” the attorney said. “In sum, they are absurd and a perversion of our legal system.”
The teen’s father, jazz musician Keyon Harrold, who was present during the attack, says that Ponsetto’s arrest was “only the first step in a very big conversation that needs to happen here in America that has to do with racial profiling.”
“If I had done that, what Miya Ponsetto had done to my son, I’d be in jail now,” Harrold said. “If I had hurt her in any way, I’d be in jail now. We wouldn’t even be able to have this conversation. As a Black man, every day I walk outside, I have to play the perfect game, almost like throwing a no-hitter, just to be believed.”
Ponsetto’s next court date is October 20, 2021.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Laura Ward warned Ponsetto of the consequences of not showing up for court. Ponsetto is out of jail on a supervised release.
“Although I did not set monetary bail if you are not in court on dates that I or other judges tell you to be — even though you did not post bail — you would face bail-jumping charges.”
According to NBC News, the Harrold family has filed a civil lawsuit against Ponsetto, the Arlo Hotel, and the manager that was working that day.