Jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold claims woman assaulted his son after false theft accusation

A confrontation in which the jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold said a woman tackled his 14-year-old son in a New York hotel lobby as she falsely accused the teen of stealing her phone is under investigation, prosecutors said.

Harrold posted a widely viewed video of the confrontation that took place at the Arlo hotel on Saturday. He alleged the unidentified woman scratched him and tackled and grabbed his son, Keyon Harrold Jr, who is black, at the lower Manhattan hotel where the pair were staying.

“He’s the sweetest, most genuine kid you could ask for,” Harrold said in an interview Monday evening. “I was just appalled at how he was treated.”

The video shows an agitated woman demanding her phone be returned while a hotel manager tries to settle the situation. At one point, the woman appears to rush forward and says: “I’m not letting him walk away with my phone!”

Harrold said that the hotel has confirmed to him that the phone was returned by an Uber driver shortly afterward.

Although the woman does not mention race in the video, the confrontation prompted comparisons to recent incidents involving false accusations against black people.

A white woman was charged with filing a false report for calling 911 and saying she was being threatened by “an African American man” during a dispute with a black man in New York’s Central Park in May. That case inspired New York state lawmakers in June to pass a law that makes it easier under civil rights law to sue an individual who calls a police officer on someone “without reason” because of their background, including race and national origin.

“There are thousands of black men sitting in prison who have been falsely accused,” Harrold said. “That’s why we have to address incidents like this now, before they become life altering, life impacting issues that negatively and devastatingly affect black people.”

The parents of Keyon Harrold Jr, and civil rights attorney Ben Crump, issued a statement Monday, calling on the Manhattan district attorney to bring assault and battery charges against the woman.

“As this year of racial awareness is drawing to a close, 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,” read the statement.

Crump and the Harrold family also called for a civil rights investigation into the Arlo Hotel “for its implicit bias” in its treatment of the teen.

New York City police did not identify the woman, saying only that there was a harassment complaint on file for an incident at the hotel on Saturday. A spokesperson for Manhattan district attorney, Cy Vance, said the office is “thoroughly investigating this incident” but did not elaborate.

Hotel management said in a post on Sunday they reached out to Harrold and his son to apologize.

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

Harrold is originally from Ferguson, Missouri, and lives in New York. He has performed with musicians including Beyoncé, Rihanna and Eminem, according to his website.


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