The 22-year-old woman dubbed ‘SoHo Karen’ after she wrongly accused a black teenager of stealing her phone in New York City, was having an anxiety attack during the incident – not being racist, her lawyer has claimed.
Attorney Sharen H. Ghatan has denied Miya Ponsetto’s assault on 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr last week was racially-motivated, claiming her client has a history of anxiety attacks and had panicked when she realized her phone was missing.
‘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. It wasn’t a race related issue. Things took a life of their own,’ Ghatan told NBC Wednesday.
The lawyer explained Ponsetto, who is from California, had been visiting her father in New York City for Christmas and was nervous about being alone in a strange city.
She had been relying on her phone to help her navigate the Big Apple and became anxious after losing it.
Attorney for Miya Ponsetto (pictured) denied she is racist, claiming the 22-year-old was having an ‘anxiety attack’ when she wrongly accused a black teen of stealing her phone in New York City last week
Ponsetto was dubbed ‘SoHo Karen’ (left) after she was seen in a now-viral video falsely accusing African American jazz artist Keyon Harrold’s son Keyon Jr. (right) of stealing her iPhone at the Arlo Hotel
‘She was a scared girl alone in a city she doesn’t know and lost her one point of contact for her numbers. She lost her mind for a hot minute. She is sorry,’ Ghatan added.
Footage of Ponsetto went viral after she was filmed last 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 in SoHo and tackled him.
In the recording, Ponsetto 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.
The lawyer denied accusations that Ponsetto was a ‘lady of privilege’, adding that she is of Puerto Rican descent who works ‘9-5 at a typical place’.
Ponsetto plans to address the controversy publicly when the time is right, but is ‘fragile’ at the moment, Ghatan told the news station.
The NYPD released surveillance footage of the woman dubbed ‘SoHo Karen’ tackling the 14-year-old son of a black musician to the ground in a New York City hotel while accusing him of stealing her phone
Keyon Jr. starts to walk away in the direction of the hotel doors. At this point, the woman runs and grabs the 14-year-old around the waist, latching on to him as the boy’s father runs after them. They pass through the automatic doors in the lobby as the boy tries to shake her off
The video, shared on social media last week by NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison, shows the woman suddenly run at Keyon Harrold Jr. and grab him by the waist in the Arlo Hotel on Saturday
Ponsetto’s mother and her attorney have expressed concern over her well-being, telling TMZ she has gone off the grid and has not been responding to messages.
They told the tabloid she has received threats and even visits to her home from strangers.
Ponsetto is due to be interviewed over the incident by NYPD detectives in Los Angeles this week.
It comes as the family of Keyon Harrold Jr. revealed the teen has been seeking therapy over the December 26 incident.
Keyon’s concerned father, Grammy-winning African American jazz artist Keyon Harrold, told TMZ he and the boy’s mom Kat Rodriguez are now in the process of choosing a trauma therapist for their son following the attack.
He said his son has been left ‘seriously traumatized’ and made to feel like a criminal, and is asking his parents: ‘Why me?’
Harrold said he has taught his son to have ‘dignity’ and an ‘ego’ as a young black man but the alleged assault has left Keyon racked with self-doubt.
‘I have tried to instill dignity in my son. I’m trying to build his ego, because for so long egos of Black men have been shattered,’ said Harrold.
Miya Ponsetto was spotted making a food run to McDonald’s Saturday when she was stopped by a reporter. New details have also emerged about Ponsetto’s long rap sheet
Keyon Harrold Jr., 14, (left with his dad) has been left traumatized and questioning ‘Why me?’, according to his concerned parents
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)
He added that he often stays in hotels with his son because of his work as a musician.
But Keyon is becoming fearful of going to hotels due to concerns that the same thing will happen again and someone will accuse him of a crime.
‘He wonders if he’s good enough to own an iPhone, or whether he’s out of place at a nice hotel,’ Harrold said.
Harrold said he is trying to convince his son that ‘you definitely belong, everywhere you go’ but that he thinks it will take professional help.
The revelation that the boy is struggling with ongoing trauma following the incident comes as new details have also emerged about Ponsetto’s long rap sheet.
The 22-year-old was arrested on a second DUI charge in October just five days after being put on probation for her first one in May, according to court records obtained by TMZ.
This came after a separate arrest back in February with her mother for drunkenly refusing to leave a hotel in Los Angeles.
Lawyer Sharen Ghatan explained Ponsetto, who is from California, had been visiting her father in New York City for Christmas and was nervous about being alone in a strange city
Ponsetto is yet to be slapped with any charges over the alleged assault on 14-year-old Keyon on Boxing Day but the boy’s family and civil rights attorneys are calling for her arrest.
The alleged assault on Keyon came just two months after Ponsetto was arrested on a DUI charge, newly obtained court records reveal.
Ponsetto, who is currently holing up at her mom’s house in Piru, California, was arrested and charged with DUI, resisting arrest and obstructing or delaying a peace officer or EMT in Ventura County on October 3, reported TMZ.
She has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is due back in court on January 28.
However the October arrest came just five days after she was placed on probation over a May 28 DUI incident in Malibu.
Ponsetto was sentenced to three years probation, 30 hours of community service and ordered to take a nine-month alcohol/drug counseling program after pleading no contest.
Her October arrest could be a violation of her probation meaning she could face prison time, according to a letter sent to Los Angeles County.
Ponsetto was also arrested in February with her mother Nicole, 42, for drunkenly refusing to leave The Peninsula hotel in Beverly Hills.
Law enforcement sources told TMZ that when they arrived at the hotel and tried to get Ponsetto and her mother to leave, her mother allegedly pushed and kicked a cop.
Nicole was arrested on charges of battery on a police officer and being drunk in public, and Ponsetto was arrested on a charge of being drunk in public.
Ponsetto and her mom was charged over the incident on May 27 – the day before the first DUI arrest – and have a court hearing later this month over this incident.
During a 20-minute phone call with CNN , Ponsetto claimed that she was assaulted during the altercation
Ponsetto was pictured picking up McDonald’s in California on Saturday where she told a reporter ‘I’m good’ and dismissed questions that about a warrant for her arrest.
‘I’m actually 22, so I don’t know what the problem is here – and I’m also Puerto Rican. Take care of yourself!’ she said.
Miya was seen in exclusive DailyMail.com photos making the quick trip to the fast foot restaurant in Fillmore, California – her first outing since being unmasked as the woman who accosted Keyon.
Her mom also appeared to get into a spot of bother over the weekend after being stopped by Ventura Country sheriff’s officers on Sunday.
At least two patrol cars were on scene as she traveled through Fillmore close to her home in Piru, a small farming town approximately 30 miles north of Los Angeles.
In exclusive DailyMail.com photos, Nicole was seen without wearing a face mask as a deputy approached her car before eventually putting one on.
After a short while, another officer appears on scene, however it is not clear why the Range Rover she and he daughter both drive was stopped just a few miles from their home.
NYPD officers confirmed last week they were looking at a variety of options, including assault, grand larceny and attempted robbery before Ponsetto was unmasked as the suspect on New Year’s Eve.
Harrold, first tweeted a video of the 22-year-old grabbing at the child while repeatedly accusing him of snatching her phone.
He captioned it: ‘On Saturday, December 26, the woman in this video falsely accused an innocent 14-year-old teenager of stealing her cellphone.
‘She then proceeded to physically attack him and fled the location before police officers arrived on scene.’