Amy Cooper faces charges after confrontation with Black birdwatcher

A white woman who called police to claim a Black man was threatening her after he asked her to put her dog on a leash in New York City's Central Park is facing charges for false reporting, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said Monday. 

“Today our Office initiated a prosecution of Amy Cooper for Falsely Reporting an Incident in the Third Degree,” Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement

He said his office will update the public as the case proceeds, and encouraged anyone who has been the “target of false reporting” to contact his office. 

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“We are strongly committed to holding perpetrators of this conduct accountable,” he said. 

A video of the confrontation between Cooper and Christian Cooper, who is not related to her, went viral in late May, drawing immediate comparisons to a number of other viral videos showing white people calling police on Black people who had committed no crimes.

In it, Christian Cooper is heard asking Amy Cooper to put her dog on a leash. Amy Cooper then threatens to call the police and “tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.” 

Christian Cooper, an avid birder, filmed the interaction. Dogs are required to wear leashes in the 36-acre wooded area of Central Park known as the Ramble. 

After threatening to call the police, Amy Cooper is seen saying into her cellphone that she is in Central Park and that there is an “African American” man in a bicycle helmet that is “threatening me and my dog.”  

“I’m being threatened by a man in the Ramble, please send the cops immediately,” she added, before hanging up. 

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Amy Cooper issued a public apology after the video went viral. 

“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,” she said. 

“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,” she added. 

Christian Cooper said that he accepts Amy Cooper’s apology. 

“I do accept her apology. It’s a first step. I think she’s got to do some reflection on what happened,” Cooper said on “The View” in May. “Up until the moment when she made that statement and made that phone call, it was just a conflict between a birder and a dog-walker. And then she took it to a very dark place, and I think she’s got to sort of examine why and how that happened.”