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Charge dismissed against woman who called police on Black birdwatcher

Charges have been dropped against a woman who gained notoriety after she was filmed calling the police on a Black birdwatcher in a viral video last year. 

The woman, Amy Cooper, had been charged for filing a false report. The charge was dismissed after she finished an educational program that focused on racial biases. 

A judge granted the case’s dismissal after the prosecution requested it following Cooper’s completion of the therapeutic educational program that centered on how racial identities impact individual lives, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told the court, according to a transcript obtained by The Hill.

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“The simple principle is that one cannot use the police to threaten another and in this case, in a racially offensive and charged manner,” Illuzzi-Orbon said.

The prosecution offered the program as an alternative restorative justice resolution designed “to educate and promote community healing” instead of a punishment. Cooper’s therapist said the five sessions were “a moving experience” and her client “learned a lot,” Illuzzi-Orbon said. 

Cooper’s lawyer Robert Barnes announced that his client’s case was dismissed over Twitter, while expressing gratitude toward the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for “a thorough & honest inquiry.”

“We thank them for their integrity & concur w/ the outcome,” he posted. “Others rushed to the wrong conclusion based on inadequate investigation & they may yet face legal consequences.”

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Cooper was charged after she called police and said “an African American man” was “threatening” her and her dog in Central Park. 

The man she made the false claim about was a birdwatcher named Christian Cooper. He is not related to Amy Cooper.

Christian Cooper had requested Amy Cooper leash her dog as required in the park’s ramble, but she refused and as the argument intensified called the police, as seen in a video posted by Christian Cooper’s sister.

Later that day, she issued an apology, following backlash from the video, which Christian Cooper said he accepted. 

“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. 

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s (D) office charged Amy Cooper with falsely reporting the incident in July. 

Prosecution revealed in October that Amy Cooper made a second unreported call to police that day during which she continued allegations that Christian Cooper had attempted to assault her. Once police arrived on the scene, she “admitted that the male had not ‘tried to assault’ or come in contact with her.”

The dispute led Amy Cooper to lose her job at the investment firm Franklin Templeton last year, which released a statement at the time saying, “We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton.”

The incident occurred on Memorial Day last year, the same day that George Floyd died in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. Floyd’s death sparked international outrage and protests against police brutality.