Politics

Amy Cooper, who called police on Black Central Park bird watcher, to be prosecuted, Manhattan DA says

Key Points
  • A White woman who was filmed in May reporting that "an African American man" was threatening her life in Central Park after he asked her to leash her dog will be prosecuted for making a false report, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. said on Monday.
  • The video of Amy Cooper calling 911 was widely shared after it was posted online by the man, Christian Cooper, and his sister. Amy Cooper, who is not related to Christian Cooper, was subsequently fired from her job at the investment firm Franklin Templeton. 
  • The incident, which sparked nationwide conversations about the history of Black men falsely accused of crimes against White women, took place on Memorial Day, the same day that George Floyd was killed in police custody in Minneapolis, setting off weeks of protests against systemic racism around the globe.
Amy Cooper making phone call in Central Park
Christian Cooper | Facebook

A White woman who was filmed in May reporting that "an African American man" was threatening her life in Central Park after he asked her to leash her dog will be prosecuted for making a false report, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. said Monday.

The video of Amy Cooper calling 911 was widely shared after it was posted online by the man, Christian Cooper, and his sister. Amy Cooper, who is not related to Christian Cooper, was subsequently fired from her job at investment firm Franklin Templeton. 

The incident, which sparked nationwide conversations about the history of Black men falsely accused of crimes against White women, took place on Memorial Day, the same day that George Floyd was killed in police custody in Minneapolis, setting off weeks of protests against systemic racism around the globe.

Vance said in a statement that Amy Cooper will face charges of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree. If convicted, she could face between 15 days and one year in jail. She is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 14.

"Our office will provide the public with additional information as the case proceeds," Vance said. "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 issued a public apology in late May, saying she "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."

She said Christian Cooper offered her dog treats and told her "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," she said in the apology. 

"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," she added.  

Robert Barnes, an attorney whose firm is based in Los Angeles, said in a post on Twitter that he was representing Amy Cooper.

"The rush to judgment is a curse of cancel culture. Amy Cooper lost her job, her home, and her public life. Now some demand she lose her freedom?" he wrote in another tweet. "How many lives are we going to destroy over misunderstood 60-second videos on social media?"

In an interview with The New York Times that was published last month, Christian Cooper said that Amy Cooper's actions tapped into a "deep vein of racial bias."

"And it is that deep vein of racial bias that keeps cropping up that led to much more serious events and much more serious repercussions than my little dust-up with Amy Cooper — the murder of George Floyd, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, and before that Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond and Eric Garner and Tamir Rice," he said. 

VIDEO3:2003:20
Black executives address racial wealth gap in America