- A new lawsuit has been opened against Miya Ponsetto, the woman dubbed ‘SoHo Karen’ online.
- Ponsetto was accused by police of attacking a Black child in a hotel lobby last year.
- Footage of the incident went viral and the child’s family is now seeking financial damages.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The California woman accused of attacking a then-14-year-old Black boy in a viral video is now being sued by the family, according to court documents reviewed by Insider.
On Wednesday, the family of the now-15-year-old filed a civil lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court against Miya Ponsetto, the 22-year-old woman who is accused of attacking the child after accusing him of stealing her phone in a hotel lobby. Law & Crime first obtained the civil complaint.
Ponsetto was filmed confronting Keyon Harrold Jr. at the Arlo Hotel in New York City in December 2020. Harrold’s father, Grammy-winning jazz musician Keyon Harrold Sr., recorded the December 26 confrontation and uploaded it to Instagram.
The video quickly went viral, as did security footage from the lobby, which appeared to show Ponsetto physically grabbing the then-14-year-old.
The civil complaint claims Ponsetto “chased” the teenager and then “tackled” him before she “began to grab at his pants and rummage through his pockets in an attempt to steal his phone.”
Ponsetto’s attorney later told NBC News that she had left her phone in an Uber and the driver returned it soon after the encounter at the hotel.
In January, Ponsetto, who lives in California, was charged with attempted robbery, grand larceny, and two counts of attempted assault related to the incident. She’s due back in court in New York for those charges on March 29, according to Law and Crime.
As footage of the incident went viral, social-media users began to call Ponsetto “SoHo Karen.” The incident took place in New York’s SoHo neighborhood and “Karen” is a popular online moniker frequently given to white women acting in a way that’s perceived as racist in public.
Soon after her arrest, Ponsetto appeared on CBS This Morning in a widely viewed interview with Gayle King. Clips from that interview also went viral, particularly a moment in which Ponsetto cut off King, who is Black, and said, “Enough.”
In the interview, Ponsetto also said she was not racially profiling the Black child when she accused him of stealing her phone. “I wasn’t racial profiling whatsoever. I’m Puerto Rican,” she said. “I’m, like, a woman of color. I’m Italian, Greek, Puerto Rican.”
-CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) January 8, 2021
As Law and Crime first reported Wednesday, the Harrold family is suing Ponsetto, as well as the Arlo Hotel and its manager, Chad Nathan.
The Harrold family is being represented by Ben Crump, the high-profile civil rights attorney who has recently taken on cases for the families of victims of police shootings, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Jacob Blake.
A court date has yet to be set. Ponsetto’s attorney, Paul D’Emilia, told Insider in an email, “Our goal remains to handle this matter through the proper judicial channels and not through various media outlets. Ms. Ponsetto remains at her home in California and has not been informed of any pending civil lawsuit in which she has been named.”
The lawsuit seeks financial damages after the “violent incident of racial profiling,” according to the civil complaint reviewed by Insider. The complaint continued, “The episode was yet another instance of African Americans being harmed by baseless accusations while going about their daily life. In this case racial profiling spiraled into a violent and frightening assault against an innocent African American child.”