Police to interview woman who falsely accused black musician's son of theft

  • NYPD detectives fly to California to speak to woman
  • Woman accosted Keyon Harrold Jr claiming he stole cellphone

Detectives from the New York City police department are traveling to California to interview a woman who was filmed trying to tackle a black teenager who she falsely accused of stealing her phone.

News of the incident was widely shared in late December after Keyon Harrold, a well-known jazz trumpeter, posted a video online.

The footage, filmed in the lobby of a Soho hotel, shows a woman angrily accusing Harrold’s 14-year-old son, Keyon Harrold Jr, of stealing her cellphone. Surveillance footage later shared by police showed the woman grabbing at Harrold Jr in an apparent attempt to take his phone.

The woman’s phone was returned to her by an Uber driver shortly after she had accosted Harrold Jr.

The woman did not explicitly mention race in the video, but the incident offered a grim reminder of the problem of racial bias in the US.

Harrold said his son was racially profiled, and the civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the Harrolds, said the video “documented the persistent truth of racism in America”.

The NYPD confirmed to the Guardian on Thursday that detectives would send officers would speak to the woman, although it was unclear if she would be charged.

In the days following the incident more than 100,000 people signed a petition demanding that the Manhattan district attorney charge the woman with a crime.

“Keyon Harrold Jr will live with this trauma for life, the weight of racism on the shoulders of another generation. He deserves better than this treatment,” Crump wrote in a statement accompanying the petition.

In an opinion post for USA Today, Harrold said the manager of the hotel had initially sided with the woman who accosted his son, and said that as a black man he faced bias in society.

“What if I had lost my cellphone, walked into an upscale establishment and wrongfully accused a 14-year-old white child of stealing my phone, then assaulted that child and his father?” Harrold wrote.

“Would the establishment’s manager have enabled me to attack them and allowed me to leave the establishment only to realize later that I lost my phone in an Uber?”


Adam Gabbatt

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Woman who falsely accused Black teen of stealing her phone pleads guilty to hate crime
Plea deal spares Miya Ponsetto of prison after charges from 2020 incident in which she tackled 14-year-old at Manhattan hotel

Gloria Oladipo in New York and agencies

12, Apr, 2022 @4:03 PM

Article image
Social distancing: New York police arresting black people at far higher rate
Of 40 people arrested in Brooklyn, 35 were black; New York mayor Bill de Blasio says: ‘We have to do better and we will’

Adam Gabbatt in New York

08, May, 2020 @4:43 PM

Article image
New York woman was shackled to bed during childbirth, lawsuit says
African American woman, 22, allegedly shackled while in labor, leading representative to decry ‘dehumanizing and pointless practice’

Edward Helmore in New York

14, Mar, 2020 @8:34 PM

Article image
New York City police search for man accused of setting fire to Muslim woman
The incident occurred Saturday, when a female visitor to the city dressed in religious clothing says a man set her blouse on fire on Fifth Avenue

Mazin Sidahmed in New York

13, Sep, 2016 @7:28 PM

Article image
Woman who called police over black birdwatcher is charged
Amy Cooper charged with filing a false report over incident that occurred in Central Park, New York, in May

Guardian staff and agencies

06, Jul, 2020 @8:32 PM

Article image
Keechant Sewell to be first woman to lead New York City police force
Mayor-elect Eric Adams names Long Island police official as the city’s next police commissioner

Gloria Oladipo in New York and agency

15, Dec, 2021 @6:07 PM

Article image
Akai Gurley: family of black man shot dead by New York police sues city
Gurley’s partner Kimberly Ballinger brings lawsuit against the city over death of Gurley, who was shot in a housing project by NYPD officers in November

Amanda Holpuch in New York

22, May, 2015 @1:48 PM

Article image
Muslim woman set on fire was not target of hate crime, New York police say
Officials say three other victims were approached in a similar manner and in the same proximity as the Saturday attack on a Scottish woman

Mazin Sidahmed in New York

14, Sep, 2016 @8:01 PM

Article image
NYPD settlement on Muslim surveillance not 'sufficient', judge rules
Judge rejects Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to appoint civilian monitor in cases stemming from 2011 police targeting of Muslim communities

Mazin Sidahmed

01, Nov, 2016 @7:13 PM

Article image
NYPD officer who put Eric Garner in chokehold should be fired, judge says
Eric Garner died in July 2014 after being pulled to the ground by officer Daniel Pantaleo on Staten Island

Adam Gabbatt in New York

02, Aug, 2019 @3:32 PM