The parents of Keyon Harrold Jr., the 14-year-old who was falsely accused of stealing a woman's phone at a Manhattan hotel last week, are now seeking therapy for their son.
Speaking to TMZ, the teen's father said his son is seriously traumatized after the confrontation with the woman, who has been identified as Miya Ponsetto, at the Arlo Hotel. They want him to attend trauma therapy. The award-winning jazz musician added that his son has been expressing self-doubt since the harassment, asking questions such as, "why me?"
"He wonders if he's good enough to own an iPhone, or whether he's out of place at a nice hotel," the concerned father said.
With both of his parents traveling often because they're musicians, Keyon Jr. accompanies them on their trips and often stays at hotels. But the teen now has a fear of hotels, telling his dad that someone will come from behind and tackle him like Ponsetto did or accuse him of a crime.
"I have tried to instill dignity in my son. I'm trying to build his ego because for so long egos of Black men have been shattered," Kenyon Sr. said.
As Blavity previously reported, Keyon Sr. captured parts of the Dec. 26 incident on camera, showing the white woman yelling at the boy and tackling him while trying to look in his pockets. But the phone was found in an Uber later that day.
"I am furious!!! We see this crap happening all the time, but it hits different when it hits home!!! I typically try to keep things positive, but nothing about this video is positive," the musician wrote on Instagram. "The lady in this video assaulted my 14-year-old son and me as we came down from our room in the Arlo Soho to get breakfast."
After reviewing additional footage of the incident, which showed the woman tackling the teenager and wrapping her arms around him as if to continue the attack, police said she could face a potential upgrade to the previously sought charges. The possible charges include assault and grand larceny or attempted robbery.
"We want charges because we have to send a message because this has larger society implications," civil rights attorney Ben Crump told Good Morning America. "Think about how many Black men have been falsely accused by these Karens and they end up losing their liberty and losing their life sitting in prison."
The family also joined the attorney during the interview with the morning news show.
"These past few days, still kind of shell-shocked. But I'm hanging in there," Keyon Jr. said. "I was confused because I've never seen that lady ever and I didn't know what to do at the moment — that's why I was happy to have my dad there to help me."
According to the New York Post, Ponsetto caused another scene at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills last year when she and her mother, Nicole Ponsetto, refused to leave. The women were charged with public intoxication in the incident.
Jamar Mackey, another Black man who was falsely accused of a crime last month, is also trying to recover from a traumatizing incident. As Blavity previously reported, the 32-year-old man was arrested in front of his children and fiancée while eating at Virginia Beach's Lynnhaven Mall on Dec. 19, accused of stealing a credit card.
The maskless officer, who handcuffed the Black man and walked him through the food court, later realized that the real culprit had already been arrested. Mackey later tested positive for COVID-19, as Blavity previously reported.
"In the midst of a global pandemic, Virginia Beach police officers — without masks or personal protective equipment — mistakenly detained a Black man who was spending quality time with his family," the Virginia Beach NAACP said in a statement. "The NAACP will not rest until every Black citizen in Virginia Beach can shop, dine, and travel without being racially profiled by our city’s police officers."