Woman who falsely accused Black teen of stealing her phone says she "could've approached the situation differently"

Miya Ponsetto speaks out hours before arrest
Miya Ponsetto speaks out hours before arrest 06:29

Miya Ponsetto, the 22-year-old woman caught on camera appearing to physically attack a Black teenager and falsely accusing him of stealing her phone, has been arrested in California.

Hours before her arrest, Ponsetto sat down with "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King, and admitted she "could've approached the situation differently" after a video of the altercation went viral online.

"I don't feel that is who I am as a person," Ponsetto defended. "But I do sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, apologize that if I made the son feel as if I insulted him or if I hurt his feelings or the father's feelings."

Surveillance video from a New York City hotel shows Ponsetto approaching 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr., accusing him of stealing her phone.

The teen's father, Grammy-winning jazz musician Keyon Harrold, recorded the encounter and accused Ponsetto of racial profiling. 

Harrold's video shows Ponsetto trying to stop the teen from leaving the hotel lobby, then rushing towards them. Hotel surveillance video appears to show Ponsetto attacking the boy. He never had her phone, which turned up several minutes later.

New York City detectives went to California Thursday to coordinate Ponsetto's arrest in connection with the confrontation. She was contacted at a traffic stop, and officials say police had to pull Ponsetto out of the car when she refused to get out. 

When she spoke with King earlier, Ponsetto and her lawyer said the NYPD had not contacted them.

Read part of their conversation below:

Gayle King: Miya, help me understand. What made you think that Keyon Harrold Jr. had your phone? That's why I'm confused.

Miya Ponsetto: I was approaching the people that had been exiting the hotel because in my mind, anybody exiting was probably the one that — might be the one that is trying to steal my phone… I admit, yes, I could've approached the situation differently… or maybe not yelled at him like that and made him feel, you know, maybe some sort of — inferior way, making him feel as if I was hurting his feelings, because that's not my intention.… I consider myself to be super sweet… And I really never, ever meant for it to, like, hurt him or his father either.

King: Are you saying that you were stopping everybody in the lobby, asking them about your phone? Is that what you're saying?

Ponsetto: Not everyone. Just the people that, in the meantime, while the hotel manager was checking the footage, I just wanted to do my part as best as I could…

King: You just described yourself as super sweet. I know you've seen the video. When you look at the video, the reaction seems very extreme. It doesn't seem like someone who's super sweet.

Ponsetto: How would you feel if you were alone in New York and, you know, you were going to spend time with your family during the holidays… and you lose the one thing —  that gets stolen from you that has all of the access to the only way that you're able to get back home?

King: I just don't think I would randomly attack people, is what I'm saying to you… I know you said you could have handled it better. But I just don't think I would randomly attack people in the manner in which you did.

…What do you think when you look at that video? You're standing there in your leggings and your flip flops. And it looks like you're just going nuts, for lack of a better word.

Ponsetto: I don't feel that that is who I am as a person… I don't feel like this one mistake does define me. But I do sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, apologize that if I made the son feel as if I insulted him or if I hurt his feelings or the father's feelings.

King: I don't believe one mistake defines anybody… But I think when I look at that particular video, you're — you did more than just accuse him… the video seems to show that you physically attacked this young boy… You do see that too, right?

Ponsetto: But at the end of the day, the dad did end up slamming me to the ground and pulling my hair and throwing me and dragging me across the ground. So I will say that.

King: Yeah, but I think, you know, the video we saw, it looked like you had just attacked his son.

Ponsetto: Yeah, the footage shows me attacking his son — attacking him how? Yelling at him? Yes. Okay. I apologized. Can we move on?

King: I know you say you just want to apologize but I do think that there should be some context to your actions that day. 

Ponsetto: Okay, so basically, I'm a 22-year-old girl. I am — I don't — racism is — how is one girl accusing a guy about a phone a crime? Where is the context in that? What is the deeper story here?

King: Miya, that is not the problem. You have to at least understand your actions that day. You seem to have attacked this little boy, this young boy, this teenager — you seemed to have attacked this teenager about the phone, and then it turned out he didn't even have your phone. That's the thing. I mean you're saying, look, "I'm 22 years old."

You are 22 years old but you are old enough to know better. So I will say you're 22, I get it.

Ponsetto: Alright, Gayle, enough. The hotel did have my phone. The hotel did end up having my phone. I did get my belongings returned to me.