The woman who called police on a Black man in Central Park in May after he asked her to leash her dog is now being charged with falsely reporting an incident, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Amy Cooper faces a misdemeanor charge for her call to police alleging that a Black man was threatening her life.
A video of the incident went viral after the man’s sister, Melody Cooper, posted the video on Twitter. The video is also posted on Christian Cooper’s Facebook page, where he tells his side of the story.
According to Christian Cooper, he and Amy Cooper — no relation — had a brief conversation in which he asked her to leash her dog or take it to another area to run, as dogs were not permitted to be off-leash in the Ramble, a nature preserve area in Central Park where the incident happened. She didn’t want to do either of the things Christian Cooper asked, according to his account, so he started filming the conversation.
Amy Cooper asked him to stop filming and when he wouldn’t, she said she was going to call the police.
“I’m going to tell them there is an African American man threatening my life,” she said.
The New York D.A.’s office issued a statement July 6 saying, “Today our Office initiated a prosecution of Amy Cooper for Falsely Reporting an Incident in the Third Degree. Our office will provide the public with additional information as the case proceeds. At this time I would like to encourage anyone who has been the target of false reporting to contact our office. We are strongly committed to holding perpetrators of this conduct accountable.”
Amy Cooper Lost Her Job & Her Dog Over the Incident & Issued a Public Apology
Thank you, Whoopi and The View for having me and my brother on to discuss this important issue. https://t.co/Cekqt5e0zb
— Melody Cooper (@melodyMcooper) May 28, 2020
The fallout from the viral video led to Amy Cooper losing her job and her dog, according to a conversation on The View in which the hosts interviewed Christian Cooper and his sister Melody.
Amy Cooper apologized for her behavior, saying she “reacted emotionally and made false assumptions about his intentions.”
The day after the confrontation at Central Park — and after the video went viral — Amy Cooper issued an apology. It said:
I want to apologize to Chris Cooper for my actions when I encountered him in Central Park yesterday. I reacted emotionally and made false assumptions about his intentions when, in fact, I was the one who was acting inappropriately by not having my dog on a leash. When Chris began offering treats to my dog and confronted me in an area where there was no one else nearby and said, ‘You’re not going to like what I’m going to do next,’ I assumed we were being threatened when all he had intended to do was record our encounter on his phone. He had every right to request that I leash my dog in an area where it was required. I am well aware of the pain that misassumptions and insensitive statements about race cause and would never have imagined that I would be involved in the type of incident that occurred with Chris. I hope that a few mortifying seconds in a lifetime of forty years will not define me in his eyes and that he will accept my sincere apology.
Christian Cooper, who is a Harvard graduate and a biomedical editor for Health Science Communications, was at the park that day birdwatching. He told The View that he accepted her apology.
He said, “I do accept her apology. I think it’s a first step. I think she’s gotta do some reflection on what happened because up until the moment when she made that statement — it was just a conflict between a birder and a dog walker, and then she took it to a very dark place. I think she’s gotta sort of examine why and how that happened.”
Amy Cooper Faces Up to 1 Year in Prison, 3 Years Probation & a $1,000 Fine if She Is Convicted
Under New York law, “a person is guilty of Falsely Reporting an Incident in the Third Degree when, knowing the information reported, conveyed or circulated to be false or baseless, he or she initiates or circulates a false report or warning of an alleged occurrence or impending occurrence of a crime, catastrophe or emergency under circumstances in which it is not unlikely that public alarm or inconvenience will result.”
Amy Cooper is scheduled for an arraignment on October 14, 2020. If convicted of the Class A misdemeanor, she could be sentenced to up to one year in jail, three years probation and a fine of up to $1,000.
“If the cops showed up, they wouldn’t have seen his resume or known his job,” Melody Cooper told The View. “This kind of racism can kill people. It could’ve killed my brother.”
Christian Cooper told The View the situation isn’t just about one incident but centuries of “racism and racial perceptions.”
“It’s not really about her and her poor judgment in a snap second,” he said. “It’s about the underlying current of racism and racial perceptions that’s been going on for centuries and that permeates this city and this country that she tapped into.”