December 8, 2023

Famed jazz musicians speak out after son was attacked, falsely accused of stealing iPhone

NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — Famed jazz musicians Keyon Harrold and Kat Rodriguez are preparing…

Famed jazz musicians speak out after son was attacked, falsely accused of stealing iPhone

NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — Famed jazz musicians Keyon Harrold and Kat Rodriguez are preparing to sue after their son Keyon Harrold Jr., 14, was attacked by a woman at the Arlo Hotel SoHo in New York City.

The parents have hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump to take on their case. Recently, they started an online petition urging the Manhattan District Attorney to file charges against the woman seen in the video accosting their son. As of Tuesday afternoon, there are more than 42,000 signatures.

“If he would have been by himself, this would have ended totally differently. There are mothers that haven’t had their children come back,” said Kat Rodriguez. “The fact that this was not de-escalated by the hotel before she put her hands on my son makes them equally responsible. “

The incident happened the day after Christmas at the Arlo Hotel SoHo in New York City. Keyon Harrold and Kat Rodriguez posted a widely viewed video of the confrontation Saturday. He said the unidentified woman scratched him and tackled and grabbed their son, Keyon Harrold Jr., at the lower Manhattan hotel. At the time the father and son were staying there.

In the video, you can hear the woman accuse the teen of stealing her iPhone.

“My son and I were at the Arlo Hotel, we were in our room. We decided to go downstairs to grab some brunch the day after Christmas. As soon as we got into the lobby, we were basically berated literally like criminals who had literally stole something,” said Keyon Harrold.

A source close to the hotel confirmed to NewsNation the woman was a guest at Arlo, but checked out Dec. 23.  According to the source, hotel staff did not know why the woman returned back to the hotel Dec. 26. The source said the hotel provided New York Police with the identity of the woman.  

The video shows an irate 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!” You can see her lunge towards Harrold and she appears to touch him.

“The lady came at my son. She came at me so aggressively. Basically saying that my son had stolen her phone. I don’t even know how that came about. But she blamed my son. She treated him as if … she treated him with absolutely no respect. And the hotel manager was in tandem with her. They didn’t give any kind of due process,” said Harrold.

Harrold said the woman’s phone was returned by an Uber driver shortly afterward. But he stated the hotel managers did not properly handle the situation. Harold and his wife say their son is traumatized by the incident.

“He’s 14. He is trying to handle it the best that he can and he will start therapy this week, because I don’t want this to later be something that comes out in a negative way,” said Rodriguez. “Because he has a beautiful character. He’s a beautiful young man.”

The hotel released the following statement:

We’re deeply disheartened about the recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo hotel. 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; still, more could have been done to de-escalate the dispute. 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 inexcusable experience, and have reached out to them directly to express our sincere regret and to offer help in dealing with this traumatic event. We are committed to making sure this never happens again at any of our hotels

The Arlo Hotels

The confrontation prompted comparisons to recent incidents involving false accusations against Black people and racial profiling.

“We know if the roles were reversed and Mr. Harrold, a black adult, tackled a white teenager and falsely accused them of taking his cell phone, that he would be charged with assault and battery,” said civil rights attorney Ben Crump.

Crump is in the process of requesting the Arlo Hotel Soho preserve all the video of the incident.

“There are larger societal implications here. If you are not a person of color and you have never experienced this kind of racial profiling, you won’t really understand it,” said Crump. “But there are thousands of black men in prisons in America today because they were falsely accused. And that’s why this is such an important teachable moment for America.”

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. A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said the office is “thoroughly investigating this incident” but had nothing further to comment on.

Keyon Harrold is a widely acclaimed musician performing with artists including Beyoncé, Rihanna and Eminem, Snoop Dog, Common, Jay Z, Maxwell and Anthony Hamilton, according to his website.

Harrold played trumpet in Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead.  The soundtrack to the movie won a Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media.Kat Rodriguez is best known for performing saxophone with Beyoncé for a decade. Rodriguez stated if it was not for their fame, the story would have never received the attention it deserves.

“But what about that woman that is a teacher or a maid or a janitor or that does not have the access to the people that we have access to, their kid would have to be dealing with this trauma for the rest of their lives,” said Rodriguez. “We need to change what’s going on in this world. I know it’s not going to happen with one person, because look at all the lives that has been lost in this year and it hasn’t happened.”

No charges have been filed so far in the case. As of Tuesday afternoon, the woman still has not been identified.

This is a developing story, NewsNation is in contact with New York Police and the Manhattan District Attorney for the latest on this case.

Make sure to tune into NewsNation tonight at 8 p.m. EST on WGN America for the latest update on this story.