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Manhattan hotel confrontation involving Black teen under investigation

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Posted at 8:08 AM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 10:21:18-05

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Prosecutors have launched an investigation into a confrontation in which a man said a woman tackled his 14-year-old son in a New York City hotel lobby as she falsely accused the Black teen of stealing her phone.

Keyon Harrold posted a widely viewed video of the confrontation Saturday at the Arlo Hotel, which prompted comparisons to recent incidents involving false accusations against Black people.

Harrold said the unidentified woman scratched him and tackled and grabbed his son, Keyon Harrold Jr., at the lower Manhattan hotel where the pair were staying.

Harrold said the phone was returned by an Uber driver shortly afterward.

The teen spoke to “Good Morning America” with his father on Tuesday and said he’s still “shell-shocked" from the confrontation.

“I’ve been alright, I guess," said Harrold Jr. "I mean, I’ve been confused. I don’t know what would have happened if my dad wasn’t there, honestly."

As for what was going through his mind at the moment, Harrold Jr. said he was just confused.

“For me, I was confused, because I had never seen that lady ever. And I didn’t know what to do at the moment. That’s why I was happy to have my dad there to help me.”

When asked why he thinks the woman accused him, the teen said he thinks she was scared.

“I think I was a threat to her, and I think she was scared,” said Harrold Jr. “So, that’s why when she saw me, she just jumped on me and attacked me.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called what happened racism, "pure and simple."

"It would be horrific at any age, but it’s especially offensive that it happened to a child," he tweeted. "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."

Staff at WPIX contributed to this report.