NYPD to upgrade charges against woman who falsely accused Keyon Harrold Jr. of phone theft

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The NYPD said Tuesday it plans to upgrade charges it will bring against a woman who falsely accused a 14-year-old black boy of stealing her cellphone then allegedly attacked him during a disturbing caught-on-camera encounter at a Manhattan hotel.

Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said at a press briefing that the decision for stiffer raps came after authorities obtained footage of the Saturday assault against Keyon Harrold Jr. that has sparked widespread outrage.

“We have a white female, we don’t have her identified yet, or her age, falsely accuse a male black, 14 years of age, for stealing her cell phone,” Harrison said of the confrontation at the Arlo Hotel in SoHo. “Our perpetrator initially started a verbal argument of this accusation and then tried to attack our teenager by grabbing for his phone, grabbing his leg and trying to tackle him. Our victim didn’t suffer any injuries. But his father, who he was with, received slight injuries.”

Harrison said the case was initially classified as harassment after police were called to the hotel but that has since changed. “After we were able to get video, we’re now looking to charge this individual with assault and maybe even look at grand larceny or maybe even attempted robbery,” he said at the 1 Police Plaza press briefing.

Manhattan prosecutors announced Monday that they were “thoroughly investigating” the allegations.

The boy’s father, prominent Jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrod, captured part of the attack on his cellphone then posted the footage to Instagram. It wasn’t immediately clear whether this was the same video Harrison was referring to.

The footage shows the agitated woman telling a hotel manager that the teen took her phone before she lunges at him. “Take the case off, that’s mine,” the unidentified woman demands, as the hotel manager is heard trying to get the boy to show them his phone.

The video has gone viral, garnering nearly 2.2 million views on Instagram.

Harrison said authorities still hadn’t located the woman. “We are trying to track down our perpetrator at this time,” he said. “We believe that she lives out of state so we’re trying to ascertain if she’s still within the New York City area.”

When asked if there was a racial angle to the case, Harrison said, “we don’t have that at this time.”

On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that the incident was “Racism. Plain and simple” and “an affront to our city’s values.” He also apologized to Harrold’s family. “I am so sorry this happened to you,” he wrote.

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