NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Cellphone video taken Saturday captured a woman at a SoHo hotel falsely accusing a Black teenager of stealing her iPhone.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called what happened at the Arlo Hotel a racist incident. The NYPD disagrees.
On Tuesday, the 14-year-old at the center of the viral controversy spoke out for the first time, CBS2’s Mary Calvi reported.
“I’m still kind of shellshocked,” the teen said.
The woman wearing a mask accused Keyon Harrold Jr. of having her iPhone. His father, a Grammy-winning jazz musician, recorded the confrontation on his phone.
“This is my phone,” Harrold Jr. is heard saying.
“You don’t have to explain nothing to her,” Harrold Sr. says.
“Take the case off, that’s mine, literally. Get it back please,” the woman says.
Watch Mary Calvi’s report —
The teen said Tuesday he is thankful his father was with him at the time.
“I don’t know what would have happened if my dad wasn’t there,” Harrold Jr. said.
“We came downstairs and we hit the lobby and she was all on him, asking for his phone immediately. But after the video cuts off, I mean, she basically tackles him. She scratches him and I was there to try to protect my little cub, the way a parent could possibly do,” his father added.
The footage shows the situation getting more intense.
“Are you kidding me? You feel like there is only one iPhone made in the world?” Harrold Sr. added.
“No, OK, then show me the … show me all my …,” the woman begins to say.
“No, get a life,” Harrold Sr. says, interrupting before adding, “You see two Black people.”
“No, I’m not letting him walk away with my phone,” the woman answers.
Later, Harrold Sr. tweeted a video, saying the woman tackled her son and calling the incident an assault.
“I’m a trumpet player, so now my hand’s bleeding because I’m trying to protect my son because of a crazy person saying he took her iPhone, and trying to go in his pocket, trying to go into my pocket,” Harrold Sr. said.
A short time after the incident an Uber driver who found the woman’s phone in his car returned it to the hotel.
De Blasio took to Twitter, writing, “This is racism,” adding he was sorry the incident happened.
This is racism. Plain and simple.
It would be horrific at any age, but it’s especially offensive that it happened to a child.
To Keyon Harrold Jr. and his family: I am so sorry this happened to you. Her behavior was an affront to our city’s values. https://t.co/xuWRyHTJmW
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) December 29, 2020
Attorney Benjamin Crump added that he wants Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance to charge the woman. Vance’s office said Tuesday it is thoroughly investigating the incident.
On Tuesday, Harrold Jr. was asked what he would say to the woman if he saw her again.
“I would ask her why would she do something like this to a kid who has never met you at all. And I would ask just why?” he said.
Despite the mayor’s reaction, as of now the NYPD said it does not consider the hotel run-in as a bias incident. Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said, “There is no bias element to it.”
The NYPD says it has identified the woman in the video. She is a California resident, and police want to find and question her.
CBS2’s Mary Calvi and Dick Brennan contributed to this report
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