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Family Files Lawsuit After Black Teen Was Attacked, Accused Of Stealing Cellphone In SoHo Hotel Confrontation

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Citing racial profiling, the family of a Black teenage boy who was attacked and accused of stealing a cellphone in a hotel is filing a lawsuit; CBS2's Kiran Dhillon reports.

Video Transcript

- Citing racial profiling, the family of a Black teenaged boy who was attacked and accused of stealing a cell phone in a Soho hotel is filing a lawsuit. CBS 2's Kiran Dhillon reports tonight.


KIRAN DHILLON: Keyon Harrold Sr. played "This Land is Your Land" on his trumpet at a news conference announcing a lawsuit against those he feels have discriminated against his teenage son. The music, a message-- the family will not tolerate what they call racial profiling.

KEYON HARROLD SR: My son was targeted as a Black young man.

KIRAN DHILLON: The lawsuit stems from this incident in December inside the lobby of the Arlo Hotel in Soho. Surveillance video appears to show 22-year-old Miya Ponsetto and confronting Keyon Harrold Jr. and his father, both who were guests at the hotel. In the video, Ponsetto appears to falsely accuse the young Keyon of stealing her phone before she tackles him.

MIYA PONSETTO: No, I'm not letting him walk away with my phone!

KIRAN DHILLON: The hotel manager can be seen approaching the boy and asking to see the phone, which Keyon did not have. The family is now suing the hotel, its parent company, Miya Ponsetto, as well as the hotel manager. The group says the hotel should have done more to protect its guests.

KAT RODRIGUEZ: To start with training your employees. De-escalation is key.

BEN CRUMP: It's a violation of the New York human rights law. They aided and abetted the racial profiling.

KIRAN DHILLON: The Arlo Hotel says it has no comment on the lawsuit at this time but has apologized for the incident in the past, saying the manager did call police regarding Ponsetto's conduct. Ponsetto faces multiple charges in relation to this incident. Meanwhile, Keyon Harrold Jr.'s parents say, while the young boy is trying to put on a brave face, he continues to experience feelings of sadness and confusion, wondering why this experience happened to him. He's now working through some of those feelings in therapy.

As for Ponsetto, she's due back in Manhattan Criminal Court March 29th. She's apologized and said the incident was not racially motivated. The Harrold Family disagrees and says they won't stop until their son receives justice. They hope what happened will be a teachable moment in the court of public opinion and in the court of law. In Soho, Kiran Dhillon, CBS 2 News.