‘SoHo Karen’ who falsely accused 14-year-old black boy of stealing her phone in NYC hotel lobby claims SHE was assaulted during dispute as
Teen’s family publicly calls for her to be charged
The 22-year-old woman dubbed ‘SoHo Karen’ who has not yet been publicly named, gave her first interview to CNN Wednesday to dispute the events
She claimed she was assaulted but declined to provide any evidence
She also appeared to deny she’d racially profiled Keyon Harold Jr., insisting she had previously asked someone else in the lobby to ‘turn out their pockets’
The boy’s father, who filmed the viral clip, held a rally Wednesday with the boy’s mother, Kat Rodriguez, civil rights attorney Ben Crump and Rev. Al Sharpton
Rodriguez blasted the actions of the woman and demanded she be charged
The hotel has apologized and called the woman’s behavior a “baseless accusation, prejudice and assault against an innocent guest”
The woman dubbed ‘SoHo Karen’ after she wrongly accused a black teenager of stealing her phone in a New York City hotel now claims that she was assaulted during the altercation and denies racially profiling the boy.
The 22-year-old woman, who still has not yet been publicly named, was filmed Saturday by Grammy-winning African American jazz artist Keyon Harrold as she approached his son, Keyon Harrold Jr., in the lobby of the boutique Arlo Hotel and tackled him.
In the recording, the woman is seen pushing and grabbing at the father and son, allegedly even scratching Keyon Sr’s hands as she attempted to snatch his cellphone, wrongly believing it to be hers.
Moments after the scuffle concluded, her phone was reportedly found in an Uber and returned to her by the driver.
While the NYPD and Manhattan District Attorney’s Office weigh whether to criminally charge the woman, she spoke to CNN Wednesday to dispute Harrold’s account of what happened, insisting ‘that’s not who I am.’
The woman’s claim comes on the same day that Keyon Sr., and Keyon Jr.’s mother, Kat Rodriguez, held a press conference alongside civil rights attorney Ben Crump, in which they urged officials to charge her with assault of a minor.
A tearful Rodriguez also called the incident a ‘racial injustice issue’, and said she was ‘heartbroken’ that her son had to experience it.
During a 20-minute phone call with CNN, ‘Soho Karen’ – reportedly often rambling at times – claimed that she was assaulted during the altercation with Keyon Sr. and his son, though failed to provide further details, including who allegedly assaulted her.
The 22-year-old’s allegation has not been corroborated by investigators or any witnesses to the December 26 incident.
After she eventually agreed to provide evidence to the network to support the claim, the woman, who lives out of state, reportedly stopped replying to CNN’s messages and calls.
According to the woman – whose name was withheld by the network – the incident was spurred when she first demanded to see the hotel’s surveillance footage to try and pinpoint who may have taken her phone.
After the request was denied, she reportedly then cornered someone else in the lobby to ’empty their pockets’, before turning her attention to Keyon Jr.
‘That’s when everything got a little more serious,’ she said.
It’s currently unclear when the alleged assault was purported to take place. The woman also provided additional information of events preceding and unrelated to the incident, which CNN said it has so far been unable to verify.
The said Tuesday that they have identified the woman and may charge her with assault, grand larceny or attempted robbery, but a decision has not yet been made.
Speaking out about her concerns over the possibility of facing charges, she said: ‘Of course I worry. That’s not who I am. I actually… try very hard to make sure that I am always doing the right thing.’
The woman added she is willing to cooperate with any police investigation, but says she has not yet been contacted by investigators, nor has she reached out herself.
The woman’s claims she was assaulted are so far unfounded. She reportedly stopped replying to CNN’s messages after agreeing to provide evidence. CNN reports that the woman was rambling in the 20-minute phone interview, in which she claims the incident unfolded after she first demanded to see the hotel’s surveillance video to try to pinpoint who may have taken her phone.
According to the 22-year-old woman, she then asked someone else in the hotel lobby to “empty their pocket,” before ultimately confronting Keyon Harrold Jr., who she maintained had her phone in his pocket.”That’s when everything got a little bit more serious,” the woman said referring to the interaction.
She reportedly, provided the network additional information of events preceding and unrelated to the incident that CNN has been unable to confirm.
When asked whether she’s concerned about possibly facing charges and overall how she is portrayed in the video, she said, “Of course I worry. That’s not who I am. I actually … try very hard to make sure that I am always doing the right thing.”
She also expressed that she was willing to cooperate with the ongoing investigation, but she is yet to receive a call from the NYPD. She’d be willing to talk to the Harrolds, as well, she said.
After she agreed to provide evidence that could help confirm her claim that she was assaulted, she stopped responding to CNN’s phone calls and text messages.
CNN is not naming her at this time because she said she has concerns for her safety unrelated to this incident.
Many people who have viewed Harrold’s video, have alleged racism. But New York authorities said there are no plans “at this time” to charge the woman with a bias crime, Harrison said.”The investigation is still preliminary, a lot of work still needs to be done,” he said. “The complainants are cooperating and I’m confident that the investigators from the first precinct will make an arrest on this case sooner than later.”
Harrold and Keyon Jr.’s mother, Kat Rodriguez, staged a rally in Manhattan on Wednesday alongside their attorney Ben Crump and Reverend Al Sharpton.
‘When I saw this story, I thought about how I was one of those kids whose father never took him anywhere for Christmas, never had brunch with my father,’ Sharpton said.
‘And for this Black man to take his Black son, put him in a hotel during a pandemic, and spend Christmas with him, raising him, and to be assaulted because of the color of their skin, I wanted to stand with this man and this woman who provided for their son, and they’re being criminalized for it. The arrogance and audacity of this woman.’
Harrold added that had he not come down into the lobby with his son when he did, something ‘could have gone very wrong.’
‘The idea of trauma goes above any charge that we may have…I bring my son places where he shouldn’t have to deal with injustices and shouldn’t have to be profiled,’ he said.
An emotional Rodriguez also spoke during the rally, taking her opportunity to let it be known she is unhappy with the way the hotel handled the situation, and also called on ‘SoHo Karen’ to be charged with assault.
‘All that we are asking is for the police to do the right thing, for the DA to do the right thing, to charge this woman with assault of a minor,’ she said.
‘To the hotel, which I’m equally angry at, you are trained to use those tools. I called the hotel right after it happened, and I gave them a chance to make it right, and they didn’t. You know when they made it right? When my tribe, my community spoke up.
‘It breaks my heart that this is happening to our son. This incident could have been avoided in so many ways,’ she said.
Crump, meanwhile, called the incident an example of ‘racial injustice’ – an all-too common narrative that ‘needs to change’.
‘Can you imagine what the narrative would have been if Keyon Harrold had not videoed the incident on his cellphone?’ Crump asked the crowd.
Keyon Harrold Sr. then played a trumpet rendition of ‘America the Beautiful’ and ‘We Shall Overcome,’ drawing applause and a few tears, according to ABC7.
No decision has yet been made by either the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office or the NYPD as to whether the woman will be charged.
Keyon Sr first shared footage of the incident on Instagram, writing that he and his son had left their room to get breakfast when they came into contact with the woman in the lobby.
It’s unclear what happened in the moments before he started filming, but in the video, the woman can be heard screaming at Keyon Jr., telling him to show her his phone.
The one-minute-long video shows the woman and the hotel manager in the lobby with Harrold recording on his cell phone.
‘This is my phone,’ Harrold’s son, who is not seen in the footage, is heard telling the woman and the manager.
You don’t have to explain nothing to her,’ Harrold tells his son.
The woman then points to the phone and tells the manager that the case is the same one that she has.
‘That’s mine,’ she tells the manager. She then tells the manager: ‘Get it back.’
Harrold responds to the woman, saying: ‘Are you kidding me? You feel like there’s only one iPhone made in the world?’
When the woman asks Harrold to see the phone, he replies: ‘No, get a life.’
Harrold then tells the woman that she should use the Find My app, which helps locate missing Apple devices.
The woman then tells Harrold that the Find My app can only be accessed through the phone.
The video then shows the manager approach Harrold’s son asking him to see the phone.
‘No, you can’t,’ Harrold tells the manager.
‘I’m the manager of the hotel,’ the manager tells Harrold, who replies: ‘I don’t care!’
Arlo Hotels apologized for the ‘recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice, assault against an innocent guest of Arlo hotel’ on Instagram saying: ‘No Arlo guest – or any person – should be subject to this kind of behavior. We want to apologize to Mr. Harrold and his son for this inexcuseable experience, and have reached out to them directly to express our sincere regret and to offer help in dealing with the traumatic event’.
During the exchange, the woman continues to encourage the manager to retrieve what she believes is her iPhone.
Harrold tries to plead his case, saying it wasn’t plausible that his son would have someone else’s phone since he just got to the lobby from the elevator.
‘Didn’t you see me just come downstairs out of the f***ing elevator?’ Harrold tells the manager.
The manager protests, saying: ‘I’m trying to help.’
Harrold replies: ‘My son has nothing to do with her.’
The woman once again repeats her demand to see the phone, saying: ‘No, he’s not leaving. Show me the proof.’
Harrold refuses and begins to walk away from the lobby toward what appear to be the elevators.
‘You better get on,’ Harrold tells the woman.
The woman, who appears to be highly distressed, walks toward Harrold and his son, saying: ‘No, I’m not letting him walk away with my phone.’
While the video is not clear, the woman appears to lunge toward Harrold and his son.
In the next frame, she is seen on the ground as the manager helps her back to her feet.
‘No, please get my phone back,’ the woman begs the manager.
The video clip ends with the woman once again approaching Harrold in an attempt to get the phone.
Harrold told The New York Times that the woman tackled his son and tried to look into his pockets before being physically separated from him.
The Trumpeter said he suffered slight injuries in the incident though his son was not harmed.
Harrold Jr. spoke alongside his father to ABC on Tuesday, telling the network he’s still ‘shell shocked’ over what happened.
‘I don’t know what would have happened if my dad wasn’t there. These past few days, still kind of shell-shocked, but I’m hanging in there.
‘For me I was confused because I had never seen that lady ever and I didn’t know what to do in the moment. That’s why I was happy to have my dad here to help me,’ he said.
Earlier this week, New York City Mayor De Blasio on Twitter called the incident ‘racism. Plain and simple.’
‘It would be horrific at any age, but it’s especially offensive that it happened to a child,’ he wrote. ‘To Keyon Harrold Jr. and his family: I am so sorry this happened to you.’
Amid the fallout, Arlo Hotels has also apologized for its role in the incident, saying its workers could have done better to ‘de-escalate the dispute.’
‘We’re deeply disheartened about the recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo hotel,’ a company statement said.
‘In investigating the incident further, we’ve learned that the manager on duty promptly called the police regarding the woman’s conduct and that hotel security intervened to prevent further violence …. No Arlo guest – or any person – should be subject to this kind of behavior.’