'Central Park Amy' Charged with Making False 911 Call on Black Bird Watcher

CBS News
July 06, 2020 - 12:13 pm

    Amy Cooper, the White woman who called 911 and claimed she was being threatened by a Black man who asked her to leash her dog in New York City's Central Park, will be prosecuted for filing a false report, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced Monday.

    "Today our office initiated a prosecution of Amy Cooper for Falsely Reporting an Incident in the Third Degree," a press release said Monday. "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."

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    Cooper, who was dubbed "Central Park Karen" after the incident, called the police after a Black man who was bird-watching asked her to leash her dog in an area where leashing is required. She repeatedly identified the man, Christian Cooper, by his race in her 911 call, demanding they "send the cops immediately" and falsely accusing him of threatening her life. (The two Coopers are not related.)

    The dog remained off-leash throughout the confrontation, and the video Christian Cooper took went viral. When police arrived, they determined that the two engaged in a verbal dispute and no one was arrested or given a summons, an NYPD spokesperson said. 

    Following the incident, Amy Cooper was fired from her job at the investment management company Franklin Templeton. She issued an apology in which she said she is "not a racist."

    Vance said an arraignment will be held on October 14 and charging documents will be available once filed.

    Amy Cooper has been charged with falsely calling 911 on Black man in racist Central Park confrontation.

    Christian, a 57-year-old, Harvard-educated science editor, was bird watching in a wooded area of New York's Central Park called the Ramble when he encountered a woman whose dog was running loose.

    "I said, 'Excuse me, ma'am, but dogs in the Ramble have to be on the leash at all times'... And she said, 'Well, the dog runs are closed.'" 

    "What made you pull out the phone and start recording it?" asked "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King. 

    "Well, that's a little bit of the irony, it had nothing to do with race," Christian replied. "It was just a conflict between a dog-walker and a birder."

    When Christian asked the woman, coincidentally named Amy Cooper, not to come close to him, she threatened to call the cops. When he encouraged her to do so, she responded, "I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life."

    "She basically … pulled the pin on the race grenade and tried to lob it at me," Christian told King.

    "She says though at one point that you said to her, 'Look, if you're gonna do what you want, I'm gonna do what I want, and you're not going to like it,'" King said.

    "That's absolutely true," Christian responded, adding that he only planned to offer a treat to the dog to get the owner to leash it.  He said it was an old birdwatcher's trick that dog owners tend to resent.

    "At the point that she makes that phone call, it's very clear that, you know, there is no physical threat to her at all," Christian said. "It's the iPhone and the dog treats."

    He added that the woman knew exactly what to say to get police to respond. In the video, the woman can be heard saying, "There is an African American man, I am in Central Park, he is recording me and threatening myself and my dog."

    "She was going to tap into a deep, deep dark vein of racism, of racial bias that runs through this country … and has for centuries," he said.

    By the time police arrived, Christian and Amy were both gone. Melody, a writer, was stunned and put the video on Twitter.