Amy Cooper, the white woman who called police on a Black man after he asked her to leash her dog in Central Park, called 911 twice during the Memorial Day incident, falsely stating in a previously unreported call that he “tried to assault her,” prosecutors revealed Wednesday.
Cooper, 41, was charged in July with a misdemeanor count of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said. In a 911 call captured in a viral video, she allegedly falsely reported that Christian Cooper, 57, was threatening her life. The charge is punishable by up to a year in jail.
However, Cyrus R. Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, said in a statement Wednesday that Cooper allegedly “engaged in racist criminal conduct” when she made a second 911 call in which she “falsely accused a Black man of trying to assault her.”
“Fortunately, no one was injured or killed in the police response to Ms. Cooper’s hoax,” the statement said.
During a brief court hearing on Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi stressed that at no time during the May 25 encounter did Christian Cooper try to assault the 41-year-old woman, stating that “using the police in a way that is both racially offensive and designed to intimidate is something that can’t be ignored.”
Cooper is negotiating a plea deal with Manhattan prosecutors that would spare her jail time. Illuzzi said Cooper was prepared to “take responsibility for her actions” and will be working with her defense team to explore a rehabilitative program that would “educate her and the community on the harm caused by such actions.”
“We hope this process will both enlighten, heal and prevent similar harm to our community in the future,” the prosecutor added. “This process can be an opportunity for introspection and education.”
Authorities say that, on May 25, Cooper was walking her dog through the Ramble in Central Park, a woodsy area of the New York City sanctuary where dogs must be leashed, when Christian Cooper approached her. Christian Cooper, an avid bird watcher and PR professional, asked the 41-year-old to leash her dog but she refused. The two individuals are not related.
In the video taken by Christian Cooper, Amy Cooper gets increasingly upset by his request and states she is going to call the police and tell them, “There’s an African American man threatening my life.”
“I’m in the Ramble, there is a man, African-American, he has a bicycle helmet and he is recording me and threatening me and my dog,” Amy Cooper is then heard yelling to a 911 operator while gripping her dog’s collar. Before hanging up, she adds: “I am being threatened by a man in the Ramble, please send the cops immediately!”
Before the video ends, Christian Cooper calmly thanks her when she finally puts her dog on a leash. His sister, Melody, later posted the video on social media, where it went viral—igniting worldwide outrage over Amy Cooper’s white privilege.
In the second, previously unreported 911 call, the 41-year-old repeated the accusation to another NYPD dispatcher before adding that the birder “tried to assault her,” according to the DA’s office. “When responding officers arrived, Ms. Cooper admitted that the male had not ‘tried to assault’ or come into contact with her,” the DA’s office said Wednesday.
A day after the incident, Cooper was fired from her job as the head of insurance portfolio management at Franklin Templeton. The company said it doesn’t “tolerate racism of any kind.” The 41-year-old also surrendered her dog, Henry, to the shelter he was adopted from—though she was later reunited with the cocker spaniel.
In a public apology issued on May 26, Cooper said 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.”
“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,” Cooper said in the statement.
“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.”