IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Video shows woman falsely accusing Black teen of stealing phone she left in Uber

A woman falsely accused the 14-year-old son of jazz musician Keyon Harrold, who is Black, of stealing her iPhone in a NYC hotel.
Get more newsLiveon

A video showing a woman in New York City falsely accusing the 14-year-old son of jazz musician Keyon Harrold, who is Black, of stealing her phone that she left in her Uber has gone viral.

The incident took place on Saturday in the lobby of Arlo Soho, an upscale, boutique hotel in New York where Harrold and his son, Keyon Harrold Jr., were guests, the hotel said.

Harrold shared a minute-long video of the encounter on social media on Sunday. In the video, the woman can be heard accosting the father and 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.

“Are you kidding me? You feel like there’s only one iPhone made in the world?” Harrold said in response. Before the video cuts out, the woman appeared to approach Harrold, prompting the jazz musician to scream: “Get your hands off!”

The video, which went viral over the weekend, drew the ire of many on social media, accusing the woman and the hotel’s employees of racially discriminating against Harrold and his son.

NBC News does not know what happened before or after what's shown in the video nor has the woman in the video been publicly identified.

The New York City Police Department confirmed to NBC News in an email that the incident took place at Arlo Soho, and said there was a complaint report, but did not respond to questions about the woman.

Arlo Hotel apologized to the Harrold family on Sunday, calling the experience “inexcusable.”

“We’re deeply disheartened about the recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo hotel,” the hotel said in a statement. “We are committed to making sure this never happens again at any of our hotels.”

The incident is the latest in false accusations against Black people caught on video this year. In May, a white woman called 911 and falsely claimed that a Black man was threatening her in Central Park in New York City after he asked her to leash her dog. Harrold has suggested this incident was also one of racial discrimination.

Keyon Harrold did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday, but he told The New York Times that he was “shellshocked” over the incident.

“The management didn’t even question her as to why she would even think he had the phone,” Harrold told the newspaper, referring to his son.

Harrold said he did not know who the woman was or how to contact her, but was told by the hotel that she was a guest at the hotel earlier in the week.

He added that the hotel told him she retrieved her phone after an Uber driver recovered it later that same day.

Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who represents Harrold's family, demanded the Manhattan District Attorney bring assault and battery charges against the woman who accused and allegedly assaulted Harrold's 14-year-old son.

"This is what it will take to drive change," Crump said in a statement. “It’s deeply troubling that incidents like this one, in which a Black child is viewed as and treated like a criminal, continue to happen."

It's not clear from the video whether the woman made contact with the teen, but the woman is seen rushing toward the person holding the video camera while saying she won't let him get away with her phone, as a man is heard saying 'get your hands off.'

A spokesperson for the Manhattan DA told NBC News that the office is "thoroughly investigating this incident."

Harrold, who was born and raised in Ferguson, Mo., developed a passion for music at an early age, according to his website. He was 18 years old when he moved to New York City to become a professional jazz player, eventually performing with big artists like Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Rihanna.

In a follow-up post on Instagram, Harrold cautioned against "accusing a woman before she is proven guilty."

“We are hurt and saddened but we are not people who want anyone to be falsely accused or want to ruin someone’s life,” he wrote in the post. “Please do to others as you would want them to do to you.”