White woman who called 911 on Black birdwatcher made 2nd call claiming assault

Tim Fitzsimons
·4 min read

A white woman whose 911 call and confrontation with a Black birdwatcher in Central Park was captured on video made a previously undisclosed second call alleging that the man had assaulted her, authorities said Wednesday.

The woman, Amy Cooper, "engaged in racist criminal conduct when she falsely accused a Black man of trying to assault her in a previously unreported second call with a 911 dispatcher" on May 25, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said in a news release.

Cooper is charged with a third-degree misdemeanor for making a false report, the district attorney said.

In her initial 911 call, Cooper said the man was threatening her.

In a second call that was first revealed Wednesday, Cooper "repeated the accusation and added that the man 'tried to assault her.' When responding officers arrived, Ms. Cooper admitted that he had not 'tried to assault' or come into contact with her," the news release said.

"Fortunately, no one was injured or killed in the police response to Ms. Cooper’s hoax," Vance said.

A video showing a white woman calling New York City police alleging that a black man was threatening her in Central Park after he asked her to put her dog on a leash has gone viral. (Christian Cooper)
A video showing a white woman calling New York City police alleging that a black man was threatening her in Central Park after he asked her to put her dog on a leash has gone viral. (Christian Cooper)

The incident occurred in a part of Central Park called the Ramble.

The birdwatcher, Christian Cooper, noticed Amy Cooper had let her cocker spaniel off its leash against the rules in that part of the park, he has recounted. He said he asked her to put her dog on a leash. When she did not, he pulled out his phone and began recording.

Amy Cooper is shown in the video telling Christian Cooper to stop recording her or that she will call the cops and tell them, "There's an African American man threatening my life." She repeats this statement several times.

Christian Cooper does not appear to move any closer to her in the video. When he refuses to stop recording her, Amy Cooper grabs her dog's collar and moves away from him to call the police, the video shows.

"There is an African American man. I am in Central Park. He is recording me and threatening myself and my dog," she said on the call. "Please send the cops immediately!"

The video and publicity about the incident spurred accusations of racism and led to Amy Cooper's getting fired from her finance job. She also surrendered her dog to a shelter where she had gotten it.

Christian Cooper said he stopped recording once Amy Cooper put a leash on her dog.

Amy Cooper issued a public apology to Christian Cooper on the day after the incident, saying in the statement, "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."

She added, "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."

On the day she issued the apology, Christian Cooper told NBC News that he hadn't seen it but would accept it if it were sincere.

He also said that he chose to keep recording Amy Cooper during the incident because he didn't want to "dehumanize" himself by giving in to what he considered an attempt at "racial intimidation" — a point he reiterated days later on "The View."

"I really kind of decided consciously I'm not going to participate in my own dehumanization. I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing," he said. "But what she's going through makes me uncomfortable.

"I don't know if I'm comfortable with defining someone by a couple of seconds of what they've done," he said.

"There's no excusing that it was a racist act, but does that define her entire life?" he said, adding that he considers her apology "a first step. I think she's got to do some reflection on what happened."