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A Central Park dog walker who called police on a Black bird watcher in May, sparking national backlash, actually called police a second, previously unreported time to falsely claim the man “tried to assault her,” according to prosecutors.
“The defendant twice reported that an African-American man was putting her in danger, first by stating that he was threatening her and her dog, then making a second call indicating that he tried to assault her in the Ramble area of the park,” Joan Illuzzi, a senior prosecutor, said during a hearing Wednesday according to The New York Times.
Amy Cooper is facing charges of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree after a viral video captured her placing a frantic call to police claiming that Black birdwatcher Christian Cooper had been “threatening me and my dog” before she broke down in hysterics and begged for police to come to the wooded area of the park known as The Ramble.
The incident began after Christian Cooper had asked Amy Cooper to put her dog on a leash and she refused, despite a rule in that area of the park requiring dogs to be leashed.
As the camera rolls, Amy Cooper can be seen telling Christian Cooper she is planning to call police.
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life,” she said in the video posted to Christian Cooper’s Facebook page before placing the frantic call to authorities while Christian Cooper quietly watched.
At no point in the video does it appear that he approaches her.
The video sparked outrage across the country, cost Amy Cooper her job and caused a rescue organization to temporarily take custody of her dog, who she is seen visibly struggling with in the video.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office now says Cooper also placed a second call falsely claiming that Christian Cooper had tried to assault her during the May 25 incident.
“Our Office is committed to safety, justice, and anti-racism, and we will hold people who make false and racist 911 calls accountable,” District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. said in a statement. “As alleged in the complaint, 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.”
When police arrived at the scene, Amy Cooper told officers that Christian Cooper had not tried to assault her or come in contact with her, prosecutors said.
Vance went on to call Cooper’s claims on the 911 calls a “hoax.”
“Our office will pursue a resolution of this case which holds Ms. Cooper accountable while healing our community, restoring justice, and deterring others from perpetuating this racist practice,” he said.
Amy Cooper appeared in court Wednesday via video for a hearing in the case.
Illuzzi said the Manhattan district attorney’s office was trying to negotiate a possible plea deal in the case that would allow her to take responsibility for her actions by participating in an educational program that would give her an opportunity to learn from the incident.
“We hope this process will enlighten, heal and prevent similar harm to our community in the future,” Illuzzi said, according to The New York Times.
The judge also agreed to convert the charging instrument from a complaint to an information, which, according to ABC News, could be a sign that Amy Cooper could plead guilty at her next court appearance in November.
Shortly after the video went viral, Amy Cooper offered a public apology on CNN.
“I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way,” she said.
Christian Cooper, a Harvard graduate who now works in communications, said in July that he did not plan to cooperate with the prosecution of the case and believed the public backlash and loss of her job was punishment enough. He said at the time that “bringing her more misery just seems like piling on.”
Christian Cooper told The New York Times Wednesday that he believes the incident was indicative of a larger problem in society.
“My response is very simple: We have to make sure we don’t get distracted,” he said, also declining to answer specific questions about Amy Cooper’s case. “We have a very important goal—and we have to stay focused on it—which is reforming policing, getting systemic change to the structural racism in our society.”
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