‘SoHo Karen’, 22, who falsely accused 14-year-old black boy of stealing phone gives first interview
The woman dubbed ‘SoHo Karen’ after she wrongly accused a black teenager of stealing her phone in a New York City hotel now claims that she was assaulted during the altercation and denies racially profiling the boy.
The 22-year-old woman, who still has not yet been publicly named, was filmed Saturday by Grammy-winning African American jazz artist Keyon Harrold as she approached his son, Keyon Jr., in the lobby of the boutique Arlo Hotel and tackled him.
In the recording, the woman is seen pushing and grabbing at the father and son, allegedly even scratching Keyon Sr’s hands as she attempted to snatch his cellphone, wrongly believing it to be hers.
Moments after the scuffle concluded, her phone was reportedly found in an Uber and returned to her by the driver.
While the NYPD and Manhattan District Attorney’s Office weigh whether to criminally charge the woman, she spoke to CNN Wednesday to dispute Harrold’s account of what happened, insisting ‘that’s not who I am.’
During a 20-minute phone call with the network, ‘Soho Karen’ – reportedly often rambling at times – claimed that she was assaulted during the incident, though failed to provide further details, including who allegedly assaulted her.
The woman’s claim comes on the same day that Keyon Sr., and Keyon Jr.’s mother, Kat Rodriguez, held a press conference alongside civil rights attorney Ben Crump, urging officials to charge her with assault.
The 22-year-old woman, who still has not yet been publicly named, spoke out for the first time Wednesday to claim she was assaulted during the exchange
In the now viral video, ‘SoHo Karen’ (left) falsely accuses Harrold’s son, Keyon Jr. (right) of stealing her iPhone
The viral incident was filed by Grammy-winning African American jazz artist Keyon Harrold (above) on December 26
The 22-year-old’s allegation that she was assaulted has not been corroborated by investigators or any witnesses to the December 26 incident.
After she eventually agreed to provide evidence to the network to support the claim, the woman, who lives out of state, reportedly stopped replying to CNN’s messages and calls.
According to the woman – whose name was withheld by the network – the incident was spurred when she first demanded to see the hotel’s surveillance footage to try and pinpoint who may have taken her phone.
After the request was denied, she reportedly then cornered someone else in the lobby to ’empty their pockets’, before turning her attention to Keyon Jr.
‘That’s when everything got a little more serious,’ she said.
It’s currently unclear when the alleged assault was purported to take place.
The woman also provided additional information of events preceding and unrelated to the incident, which CNN said it has so far been unable to verify.
The NYPD told DailyMail.com Tuesday that they have identified the woman and may charge her with assault, grand larceny or attempted robbery.
Speaking out about her concerns over the possibility of facing charges and concerns over how she’s portrayed in the video, she said: ‘Of course I worry. That’s not who I am. I actually… try very hard to make sure that I am always doing the right thing.’
The woman added she is willing to cooperate with any police investigation, but says she has not yet been contacted by investigators, nor has she reached out herself.
The woman’s claims she was assaulted are so far unfounded. She reportedly stopped replying to CNN’s messages after agreeing to provide evidence
Harrold Sr. and Keyon Jr.’s mother, Kat Rodriguez, held a rally in Manhattan for their son on Wednesday, alongside civil rights attorney Ben Crump (right) and Rev. Al Sharpton (left)
Harrold and Keyon Jr.’s mother, Kat Rodriguez, staged a rally in Manhattan on Wednesday alongside their attorney Ben Crump and Reverend Al Sharpton.
‘When I saw this story, I thought about how I was one of those kids whose father never took him anywhere for Christmas, never had brunch with my father,’ Sharpton said.
‘And for this Black man to take his Black son, put him in a hotel during a pandemic, and spend Christmas with him, raising him, and to be assaulted because of the color of their skin, I wanted to stand with this man and this woman who provided for their son, and they’re being criminalized for it. The arrogance and audacity of this woman.’
Harrold added that had he not come down into the lobby with his son when he did, something ‘could have gone very wrong.’
‘The idea of trauma goes above any charge that we may have…I bring my son places where he shouldn’t have to deal with injustices and shouldn’t have to be profiled,’ he said.
Rodriguez also spoke during the rally, taking her opportunity to let it be known she is unhappy with the way the hotel handled the situation, and also called on ‘SoHo Karen’ to be charged with assault.
‘All that we are asking is for the police to do the right thing, for the DA to do the right thing, to charge this woman with assault,’ she said.
‘To the hotel, which I’m equally angry at, you are trained to use those tools. I called the hotel right after it happened, and I gave them a chance to make it right, and they didn’t. You know when they made it right? When my tribe, my community spoke up.
‘It breaks my heart that this is happening to our son. This incident could have been avoided in so many ways,’ she said.
Crump, meanwhile, called the incident an example of ‘racial injustice’ – an all-too common narrative that ‘needs to change’.
‘Can you imagine what the narrative would have been if Keyon Harrold had not videoed the incident on his cellphone?’ Crump asked the crowd.
Keyon Harrold Sr. then played a trumpet rendition of ‘America the Beautiful’ and ‘We Shall Overcome,’ drawing applause and a few tears, according to ABC7.
At one point in the video the woman is shown on the floor. It’s unclear where this has anything to do with her claims of assault
Kat Rodriguez, center, mother of Keyon Harrold Jr. speaks as attorney Ben Crump, right, Rev. Al Sharpton, left, and Keyon Harrold Sr. listen during a news conference on Wednesday
No decision has yet been made by either the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office or the NYPD as to whether the woman will be charged.
Keyon Sr first shared footage of the incident on Instagram, writing that he and his son had left their room to get breakfast when they came into contact with the woman in the lobby.
It’s unclear what happened in the moments before he started filming, but in the video, the woman can be heard screaming at Keyon Jr., telling him to show her his phone.
The one-minute-long video shows the woman and the hotel manager in the lobby with Harrold recording on his cell phone.
‘This is my phone,’ Harrold’s son, who is not seen in the footage, is heard telling the woman and the manager.
‘You don’t have to explain nothing to her,’ Harrold tells his son.
The woman then points to the phone and tells the manager that the case is the same one that she has.
‘That’s mine,’ she tells the manager. She then tells the manager: ‘Get it back.’
Harrold responds to the woman, saying: ‘Are you kidding me? You feel like there’s only one iPhone made in the world?’
When the woman asks Harrold to see the phone, he replies: ‘No, get a life.’
Harrold then tells the woman that she should use the Find My app, which helps locate missing Apple devices.
The woman then tells Harrold that the Find My app can only be accessed through the phone.
The video then shows the manager approach Harrold’s son asking him to see the phone.
‘No, you can’t,’ Harrold tells the manager.
‘I’m the manager of the hotel,’ the manager tells Harrold, who replies: ‘I don’t care!’
The incident happened in the lobby of the boutique Arlo Hotel last Saturday
Arlo Hotels apologized for the ‘recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice, assault against an innocent guest of Arlo hotel’ on Instagram saying: ‘No Arlo guest – or any person – should be subject to this kind of behavior. We want to apologize to Mr. Harrold and his son for this inexcuseable experience, and have reached out to them directly to express our sincere regret and to offer help in dealing with the traumatic event’
During the exchange, the woman continues to encourage the manager to retrieve what she believes is her iPhone.
Harrold tries to plead his case, saying it wasn’t plausible that his son would have someone else’s phone since he just got to the lobby from the elevator.
‘Didn’t you see me just come downstairs out of the f***ing elevator?’ Harrold tells the manager.
The manager protests, saying: ‘I’m trying to help.’
Harrold replies: ‘My son has nothing to do with her.’
The woman once again repeats her demand to see the phone, saying: ‘No, he’s not leaving. Show me the proof.’
Harrold refuses and begins to walk away from the lobby toward what appear to be the elevators.
‘You better get on,’ Harrold tells the woman.
The woman, who appears to be highly distressed, walks toward Harrold and his son, saying: ‘No, I’m not letting him walk away with my phone.’
While the video is not clear, the woman appears to lunge toward Harrold and his son.
In the next frame, she is seen on the ground as the manager helps her back to her feet.
‘No, please get my phone back,’ the woman begs the manager.
The video clip ends with the woman once again approaching Harrold in an attempt to get the phone.
In one frame, she is seen on the ground as the manager helps her back to her feet
Keyon Harrold Sr. played the trumpet during the news conference, which was held as officials weigh charging the woman
Harrold told The New York Times that the woman tackled his son and tried to look into his pockets before being physically separated from him.
The Trumpeter said he suffered slight injuries in the incident though his son was not harmed.
Keyon Jr. spoke alongside his father to ABC on Tuesday, telling the network he’s still ‘shell shocked’ over what happened.
‘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.
‘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,’ he said.
Harrold Sr. and Keyon Jr.’s mother, Kat Rodriguez, held a rally in Manhattan for their son on Wednesday, alongside civil rights attorney Ben Crump and Rev. Al Sharpton.
Earlier this week, New York City Mayor De Blasio on Twitter called the incident ‘racism. Plain and simple.’
‘It would be horrific at any age, but it’s especially offensive that it happened to a child,’ he wrote. ‘To Keyon Harrold Jr. and his family: I am so sorry this happened to you.’
Amid the fallout, Arlo Hotels has also apologized for its role in the incident, saying its workers could have done better to ‘de-escalate the dispute.’
‘We’re deeply disheartened about the recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo hotel,’ a company statement said.
‘In investigating the incident further, we’ve learned that the manager on duty promptly called the police regarding the woman’s conduct and that hotel security intervened to prevent further violence …. No Arlo guest – or any person – should be subject to this kind of behavior.’
Famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump is leading the charge of outrage against the woman’s actions, and also called out the hotel for ’empowering’ her accusations by asking Harrold’s son to prove his innocence.
‘As this year of racial awareness is drawing to a close, it’s deeply troubling that incidents like this one, in which a Black child is viewed as and treated like a criminal, continue to happen,’ Crump said in a statement.
‘We strongly urge Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. to bring assault and battery charges against this woman to send the message that hateful, racially motivated behavior is unacceptable,’ Crump added. ‘This is what it will take to drive change. We also call for a civil rights investigation into the Arlo Hotel for its implicit bias in its treatment of Keyon.’
While authorities ensure they have identified the woman in the video, online, outraged social media users are attempting to track her down themselves.
One social media influencer who was pictured at the hotel three days before the incident has posted a denial to Instagram that she is the ‘Karen’ after being bombarded with abuse.