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Family Of Black Teen Falsely Accused Of Taking Cellphone Files Lawsuit Against Miya Ponsetto, Arlo Hotel

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The family of a Black teenage boy who was attacked and falsely accused of stealing a cellphone at a SoHo hotel is now filing lawsuit against those involved.

Keyon Harrold Sr. played "This Land is Your Land" on his trumpet at a news conference Wednesday announcing a lawsuit against those he feels have discriminated against his teenage son.

The music was a message that the family will not tolerate what they call racial profiling, CBS2's Kiran Dhillon reported.

"My son was targeted as a Black young man and this needs to stop right now," Harrold Sr. said.

The lawsuit stems from an incident in December inside the lobby of the Arlo Hotel.

Surveillance video appears to show 22-year-old Miya Ponsetto confronting Keyon Harrold Jr. and his father, who were both guests at the hotel.

On the video, Ponsetto appears to falsely accuse the young Keyon of stealing her phone, before tackling him.

A hotel manager can be seen approaching the boy and asking to see the phone, which Keyon did not have.

SoHo hotel confrontation Miya Ponsetto
Miya Ponsetto, the woman seen in a viral video attacking a Black teenager at a SoHo hotel after falsely accusing him of stealing her cellphone, has been arrested. (Credit: Ventura County Sheriff's Office)

The family is now suing the Hotel, its parent company, Ponsetto, as well as the hotel manager.

The group says the hotel should have done more to protect its guests.

"You start with training your employees. De-escalation is key," said Kat Rodriguez, Keyon Harrold Jr.'s mother.

"Violation of the New York human rights law. They aiding and abetted racial profiling," attorney Ben Crump said.

The Arlo Hotel said it has no comment on the lawsuit at this time, but has apologized for the incident in the past, adding the manager did call police regarding Ponsetto's conduct.

Ponsetto is facing multiple charges in relation to the incident.

Meanwhile, Keyon Harrold Jr.'s parents say while the young boy is trying to put on a brave face, the teenager continues to struggle with feelings of confusion and sadness, wondering why this experience happened to him.

He has been working through some of those feelings in therapy.

As for Ponsetto, she is due back in Manhattan Criminal Court on March 29. She has 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 said they hope what happened will be a teachable moment in the court of public opinion, and in the court of law.

CBS2 did not hear back from the Arlo Hotel's parent company, Quadrum Hospitality.

A lawyer for Ponsetto said she is at her home in California and has not been informed of any pending civil lawsuits.

CBS2's Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report

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