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Woman who attacked and falsely accused Black musician’s son granted supervised release


A woman charged with attempting to assault a 14-year-old and falsely accusing him of stealing her cell phone has been granted supervised release after her arrest and extradition to New York, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office told CNN.

Miya Ponsetto, 22, of Piru, California, was arraigned Saturday evening on charges of attempted assault, endangering the welfare of a child, attempted robbery and attempted grand larceny, according to charging documents.

None of the charges is eligible for monetary bail, Manhattan DA spokeswoman Naomi Puzzello told CNN. The judge also granted orders of protection for the victims.

Ponsetto was arrested Thursday in Piru, about two weeks after Keyon Harrold, a Black jazz musician, posted a video on Instagram that showed Ponsetto making false claims against his teenage son at the Arlo SoHo boutique hotel in New York.

“The lady in this video assaulted my 14-year-old son and me as we came down from our room … to get breakfast,” Harrold wrote. The woman said she had lost her phone, and “apparently, my son magically acquired it,” Harrold wrote, calling the claim “ridiculous.”

Video of the encounter was widely shared on social media and seen as yet another example of racial profiling against Black men and boys.

The NYPD is not investigating this incident as a case of racial bias.

In a statement to CNN, Ponsetto’s attorney, Paul D’Emilia, said his client was innocent and that the DA’s evidence would disprove most of their case.

“Last evening’s arraignment was not the appropriate venue to fully litigate our case,” he said. “Instead it will be resolved in our courts and not through social media.”

Ponsetto’s next scheduled court appearance is March 29, according to Puzzello.

Incident was caught on surveillance video

According to the criminal complaint, Ponsetto approached a man — who the complaint does not name — and his son at the hotel on December 26.

“You have my phone! Give me my phone! Show me your phone!” she yelled at the son, according to the complaint, before repeatedly grabbing and lunging toward him, his hands and pockets.

Ponsetto followed the father and son as they tried to get away from her, the complaint says, while grabbing their arms and clothing and trying to reach into their pockets.

In an email sent to CNN, Puzzello said Assistant District Attorney Sarah Marquez told the court Ponsetto falsely accused the 14-year-old of taking her phone and repeatedly attacked the 14-year-old, dragging him to the floor as witnesses attempted to intervene.

Marquez said the “unprovoked attack” was also caught on a 4-minute surveillance video at the hotel, according to Puzzello.

Rodney Harrison, chief of detectives for the NYPD, has said Ponsetto’s phone was returned to her moments after the incident by the driver of a ride-share vehicle she had previously used.

CNN has reached out to the SoHo hotel to get more information about the surveillance video referenced in the complaint.

Ponsetto has no prior criminal convictions, according to Manhattan prosecutors, but she does face three open cases in California, all stemming from separate incidents in 2020.

According to Puzzello’s email to CNN, in late February, Ponsetto was charged with public intoxication after she, her mother and another person were involved in a physical altercation at a hotel. In late May, she was charged with driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license. She was charged with driving under the influence again in early October, along with driving with a suspended license and resisting arrest.

As part of her supervised release, Ponsetto is not allowed to contact the victims in the case and she must appear at all her scheduled court dates for the unrelated open cases in California.

D’Emilia also accused the New York Police Department of choosing to “exacerbate the situation” by sending officers across the country to “bring back a person who would have returned with a simple telephone request.”

Puzzello’s email pointed out that despite widespread news coverage, Ponsetto never made an effort to surrender herself to authorities.

Even when she was eventually located and contacted by police during a traffic stop, prosecutors said, she refused to exit her vehicle and tried to slam her car door on an officer.

Woman denied race was a factor in CBS interview

In an interview with CBS “This Morning” taped prior to her arrest, Ponsetto apologized and admitted she could have handled the situation in New York differently.

But in a portion of the interview that aired Friday, Ponsetto insisted race was not a factor and that her actions were not criminal, at one point appearing to try to justify her actions.

“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?”

Ponsetto said she was a “22-year-old girl.” But the interviewer, CBS’ Gayle King, suggested that made her old enough to know better — to which Ponsetto abruptly cut her off, telling King, “Alright Gayle, enough.”

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