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Miya Ponsetto went 'off-script' in interview, claims she can't be racist as woman of color

“I wasn't racial profiling whatsoever. I'm Puerto Rican,” she told CBS's Gayle King regarding accusations that she unjustly accused a Black teenage boy.
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Miya Ponsetto, the 22-year-old woman who was filmed attacking and falsely accusing a Black teenage boy of theft, allegedly ignored her lawyer’s preparation for a television interview that was widely criticized last week.

Ponsetto was seen in a widely circulated video last month in which she falsely accused the 14-year-old son of jazz musician Keyon Harrold of stealing her iPhone in a New York City Hotel. She and her lawyer, Sharon Ghatan, spoke with CBS “This Morning” host Gayle King in an interview last week, the first part of which aired Friday. It concluded Monday.

She insisted to King that the false accusation against Harrold’s son was not about race but that she thought “any person” walking out of the lobby might have had her phone.

“I wasn't racial profiling whatsoever. I'm Puerto Rican,” Ponsetto said. “I'm, like, a woman of color. I'm Italian, Greek, Puerto Rican.”

When asked whether she thought she couldn’t be racist because she was a woman of color, Ponsetto told King, “exactly.”

“Well, I would disagree with that,” King said. “People of color can be racist too. Do you believe that you should pay a price for this?”

“I don't feel that my accusation is a crime,” Ponsetto responded.

King confronted Ponsetto during the interview about her apparent lack of remorse for the exchange and pointed to the Harrold family statement that the teenager was “traumatized” following the false accusation. Ponsetto insisted that she was also traumatized.

“He's 14? That's what they're claiming? Yeah. I'm 22,” Ponsetto said. “I've lived probably just the same amount of life as him. Like, honestly. I'm just as a kid at heart as he is. I feel sorry that I made the family go through, like, all of that stress. But at the same time, it wasn't just them going through that.”

Ghatan told King that the issue is “much bigger” than she believed her client appreciated and that Ponsetto saw the incident in simple terms. She told King that as a 22-year-old woman alone in New York City, Ponsetto’s contacts and money and travel arrangements were all tied to the phone.

“She agreed that her behavior and her actions were definitely less than elegant, shall we say, and less than graceful and less than what anyone else would do,” Ghatan said. “And she agreed. And she wouldn't have repeated it.”

Ghatan told the television network that Ponsetto reportedly “went off script” and deviated from their preparations, King said Monday. King added that there was an “interesting exchange” between Ghatan and Ponsetto that was cut out of the final interview.

“She says look, she’s concerned about her mental health and her wellbeing, and she of course wishes her well,” King said. “And I can see why she is concerned. The attorney worked very, very hard to guide her client during the interview.”

Authorities in California arrested Ponsetto on Thursday afternoon on a fugitive warrant in Piru, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office told NBC News on Thursday that Ponsetto refused to get out of the car and tried to slam a car door on one of the deputies. She was extradited Saturday to New York, where she faces a felony charge of attempted robbery as well as grand larceny, endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of attempted assault.

Paul D’Emilia, who is representing Ponsetto in New York, confirmed to NBC News that she was released without bail and returned immediately to California. She is required to stay in touch with the release program until her scheduled appearance in New York Criminal Court on March 29.

In the video shared in December by Harrold, Ponsetto can be heard accosting Harrold and his son, yelling, “Show me my phone!” A man in the video who identified himself as the hotel manager can also be heard asking to see Harrold Jr.’s phone.

Before the video cuts out, Ponsetto can be seen approaching Harrold, prompting the jazz musician to shout: “Get your hands off!” A 10-second video from the hotel’s security footage captured Ponsetto rushing at and encircling her arms around Harrold’s son.

Police said Harrold “sustained scratches to his hand.” No other injuries were reported.

Ponsetto told King that her phone was returned to her by a hotel receptionist after the incident.

Harrold told King that he was happy that Ponsetto has been arrested and that Ponsetto’s apology seemed “as genuine as when she shushed” King in the portion of the interview that aired Friday.

“I'm still in shock at this point,” Harrold said. “I work as hard as I possibly can just to put my son in the best scenarios, to give him the chance to win, to give him a chance to be a whole young man, a whole young boy, Black be in our beloved New York City and this happened, I'm appalled.”

At the time of the incident, the Arlo apologized for what it called a "baseless accusation, prejudice and assault against an innocent guest," and said the company was "committed to making sure this never happens again at any of our hotels."