What to Know
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams asked police to investigate a woman dubbed "Cornerstore Caroline," who accused a child of groping her
Surveillance video shows the boy never touched her, and the woman may have been brushed by his backpack
Adams says she should be investigated for impersonating a police officer; amid the backlash she claimed to be a cop
The Brooklyn borough president has asked the NYPD to investigate a woman dubbed "Cornerstore Caroline," who called 911 and wrongly accused a child of groping her.
Eric Adams said he requested that police investigate whether Teresa Klein broke the law by impersonating a police officer. When confronted about calling 911 on a child, Klein claimed to be a cop.
On Friday, Klein and others watched surveillance video from the bodega, which showed the child's backpack may have brushed against her as he passed with his mother and young sister.
"The child accidentally brushed against me," she admitted after watching the video.
"Young man, I don't know your name, but I'm sorry," she said.
Adams said the community was "rightfully outraged" and "we cannot dismiss false complaint calls to the police with mere apologies, sincere or not."
He called the viral accusation and aftermath a "modern-day Emmett Till moment," referring to a black 14-year-old boy who was lynched in 1955 after being accused of whistling at a white woman in a grocery store. That killing was a key event leading to the beginning of the Civil Rights movement.
Adams said he would hold a "community conversation on diversity and respect" on Monday at 5:30 p.m. at Flatbush and Albermarle.
Klein was buying cat litter inside Sahari Deli Market in Flatbush on Wednesday when the boy, wearing a school uniform and backpack, walked past her with his mother and younger sister, witnesses say and video shows. His backpack appeared to brush against Klein's backside.
Klein whips her head around and begins shouting in the direction of the exiting family, surveillance video shows. She makes crude gestures at them, and the mother is seen walking back and arguing with her.
Joni Torian, a customer who witnessed the dispute, told the Post, "The mother was right behind him when she says he grabbed her very flat behind. Ain't no mama gonna let her child sexually assault a woman. [Klein] started yelling, 'Miss, you need to watch your son, he just grabbed my a--.' It was kind of funny at first, but then she was saying, 'I will call the cops.'"
The fight is then taken outside the store, where witnesses began recording the confrontation. In one video posted to Facebook, Klein is seen getting on her phone and saying, "I'm going to call the cops right now" -- which sends the boy and his little sister into tears.
"Mommy!" the little girl bursts out wailing as she clings to her mother's leg.
Klein is heard saying sarcastically into the phone, as incredulous bystanders watch, "White woman calling the cops on a black lady, I get it."
"The son grabbed my a--, and she's decided to yell at me," she tells 911 on the phone.
The man filming the encounter shouts at Klein, "Cornerstore Caroline!" -- a reference to the meme mocking white women who call 911 to report what they consider suspicious activity by black people ("Barbecue Becky," "Permit Patty").
"That's Cornerstore Caroline! We got a new one!" the man filming proclaims.
Another passerby shouts at Klein, "Who would want to touch your flat a--? Nobody want to touch your flat a--!"
Klein continues speaking into the phone, saying, "I've been sexually assaulted by a child."
She tells the 911 operator that she'll be going home to meet officers to file a report and after she hangs up, she waves at the man filming and tells him, "Now why don't you upload that to World Star?"
Another woman confronts her and asks her if she "seriously called the police on a child."
"Go away," that other woman tells Klein.
Klein, who tells the other woman she's a police officer, replies, "No, white lady, I will not."
She adds, sarcastically, "One white girl to another, yeah, make the point to the entire audience," gesturing at the bystanders, who happen to be black.
The cellphone video posted to Facebook Wednesday had nearly 5 million views by Friday, and more than 24,000 comments from outraged viewers.