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The California woman who allegedly attacked a Black teenager in New York City after falsely accusing him of stealing her cell phone — seen in a video that has since gone viral — sat down for a bizarre, contentious interview just hours before she was jailed in connection to the confrontation.
Miya Ponsetto, 22, spoke with "CBS This Morning’s" Gayle King for an interview that aired Friday — and was filmed not long before the woman was arrested in Ventura County on Thursday.
Flanked by her lawyer and wearing a black baseball cap emblazoned with the word "Daddy," Ponsetto tried to justify her Dec. 26, 2020, outburst and apologized to 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr. and his father, famous jazz musician Keyon Harrold.
“Alright, Gayle. Enough.”
"I was approaching the people that had been exiting the hotel, because in my mind, anybody exiting is probably the one that, might be the one that is trying to steal my phone," Ponsetto said.
"I admit, yes, I could have approached the situation differently or maybe not yelled at him like that and made him feel, maybe some sort of inferior way — making him feel as if I was, like, hurting his feels because that’s not my intention. I consider myself to be super sweet. I really never ever meant for it to, like, hurt him or his father, either."
When asked if she was stopping everyone who was leaving the hotel, Ponsetto admitted she was not and said was trying to find her phone while the hotel manager checked surveillance camera footage.
"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?" she asks.
But the interview went off the rails as King began to probe Ponsetto further about her behavior, and the video that shows her tackling the teenager to the ground.
"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, I will say that," she tells King. "The footage shows me attacking his son, of attacking him how? Yelling at him? Yes, OK, I apologize. Can we move on?"
The interview continues with King mentioning the need for "more context" about Ponsetto’s behavior that day.
"OK, so basically I’m a 22-year-old-girl. I, I don’t, racism… how is one girl accusing a guy about a phone a crime? Where is the context in that? What is the deeper… what is the deeper story here?" Ponsetto responds.
King interrupts Ponsetto to say: "You have to at least understand your actions that day. You seem to have attacked this little boy — this young boy, this teenager … about the phone and then it turned out: he did not even have your phone."
After King says the 22-year-old is "old enough to know better," Ponsetto motions her hand in front of the computer projecting King’s video feed and says: "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," Ponsetto says as the interview wraps.
On Thursday, the New York Police Department flew detectives out to California with a warrant for Ponsetto's arrest. The trip followed days of intense media coverage of the fracas at the hotel and demands by the teen's family and activists that she face criminal charges.
An NYPD spokesperson told Fox News on Friday Ponsetto was in the process of being extradited but had not yet been returned to the Big Apple to face charges.
Ponsetto's lawyer, Sharen Ghatan, said in an interview before the arrest that her client is "emotionally unwell" and remorseful. Harrold Sr. had recorded the confrontation and shared it online.
In his video, an agitated woman is seen demanding the teen's phone, claiming he stole it. A hotel manager tries to intervene. Keyon Harrold can be heard in the recording telling the woman to leave his son alone. Ghatan confirmed that Ponsetto is the woman in the video.
Security video later released by the NYPD shows Ponsetto frantically grabbing at the teen as he tried to get away from her through the hotel’s front door. She’s seen clutching him from behind before both tumble to the ground.
This booking photo provided by Ventura County Sheriff’s Office in California shows Miya Ponsetto. Ponsetto, who falsely accused a Black teenager of stealing her phone and then tackled him at a New York City hotel on Dec. 26 , 2020 was arrested Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021 in her home state of California. (Ventura County Sheriff’s Office via AP)
(Ventura County Sheriff’s Department)
Ponsetto's missing phone had actually been left in an Uber and was returned by the driver shortly afterward, Keyon Harrold has said.
Ventura County Sheriff's deputies arrested Ponsetto after spotting her driving near her home in Piru, northwest of Los Angeles, said department Capt. Eric Buschow.
She drove two blocks before stopping her vehicle, then refused to get out of the car, Buschow said.
"She tried to slam the door on one of the deputies and that’s when they just reached in and forcibly removed her," he said, adding that the sheriff's office would ask county prosecutors to charge her with resisting arrest.
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Ghatan said she spoke to her client earlier Thursday, and that "she strikes me as someone who’s unwell."
She said Ponsetto "lashed out" over worry about her phone disappearing, and that it wasn't racially motivated.
It "could have been anyone," she said.
Meanwhile, the Harrolds' attorney, prominent civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, refuted the claims that Ponsetto was remorseful, and slammed police and the hotel for giving power to "individual acts of racism."
Keyon and Kat Harrold, the teen's parents, released a statement on Thursday that they said was "not about an apology from someone who until a few days ago was claiming she did nothing wrong, and in fact alleged Keyond Harrold Str had assaulted her."
Nor, they said, was it about "someone who targeted a 14-year-old Black child because of the color of his skin."
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"What it is about is significant, societal change," the statement says. "Our energy right now is directed at the healing of our son, and in bringing attention to the larger societal issues that led to the disgusting physical and verbal attack … This never should have happened."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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