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Video shows woman falsely accusing Black teen of stealing iPhone at NYC hotel, musician says

Woman may face assault charge for false claim
NYPD may charge woman with assault after false phone theft claim 00:20

An acclaimed jazz musician said his 14-year-old son was accosted and falsely accused of stealing a woman's iPhone at a boutique hotel in New York City over the weekend. The incident prompted an apology from the hotel and calls from the family's lawyer to bring charges against the woman.

Keyon Harrold, a well-known trumpeter who has performed with the likes of Beyoncé, claimed he and his teenage son, who are both Black, were assaulted by the woman who claimed the child took her smartphone. He shared a video on social media showing part of their encounter with her inside the lobby of the Arlo Hotel in Manhattan on Saturday.

The woman told the teen to hand over the phone, but Harrold's son replied, "This is my phone." Standing behind a male hotel manager, the woman continued to demand the device. 

"Are you kidding me? You feel like there's only one iPhone made in the world?" Harrold is heard asking her. 

The manager approached the boy and asked to see the phone, mentioning he was manager at the hotel. 

"I don't care, this is my son," Harrold told him, adding that the two were hotel guests who just came down the elevator. 

After the manager said he was just trying to help, Harrold responded, "But you're not helping, what you're being is disrespectful... My son has nothing to do with her." 

"No, he's not leaving," the woman said. "Show me the proof." 

The father and son walk away, but she follows them and appeared to lunge toward the older Harold. 

"No, please, get my phone back," she said. "I can't not have my phone!" 

"Get your hands off," Harrold said, as the video ends. 

Harrold wrote in the social media post that an Uber driver returned her phone after the "traumatic" incident and said she didn't apologize to him or his son. He also accused the woman of scratching him and alleged she "tackled and grabbed" his son. 

In an Instagram post, the Arlo Hotels apologized for the "recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice, assault against an innocent guest of Arlo hotel."

"No Arlo guest – or any person – should be subject to this kind of behavior," the chain said. "We want to apologize to Mr. Harrold and his son for this inexcusable experience, and have reached out to them directly to express our sincere regret and to offer help in dealing with the traumatic event."   

The hotel chain said the manager called police regarding the woman's conduct and hotel security intervened to prevent further violence. The NYPD told CBS News on Monday that they've received a complaint involving the incident, but did not comment further when asked about an investigation.

Katty Rodriguez, the teen's mother, later thanked followers on social media for their support and called for the woman in the incident to be identified. She also explained why the family went forward with the allegations.

"The only reason we decided to go public and post on social media was because the hotel which had a security guard on duty let this young lady leave while waiting for the police to respond after she assaulted my son several times which is not seen on this video because my sons father dropped the phone to protect our son!" she wrote.

In a statement on behalf of the family, civil rights attorney Ben Crump urged the Manhattan district attorney to bring assault and battery charges on the woman who accused and allegedly attacked the teen. He also called for a civil rights investigation into the Arlo hotel for "its implicit bias in its treatment of Keyon."

This incident echoes a similar encounter earlier this year when Christian Cooper, a Black man, filmed Amy Cooper, a White woman, calling the cops on him in NYC's Central Park and falsely telling them that he was threatening her. She was charged with falsely reporting an incident in the third degree, a misdemeanor. 

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