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The woman who called 911 to falsely report that a Black birdwatcher was attacking her in Central Park when he was doing no such thing now says she didn't see another option that day.
Amy Cooper, who had been facing misdemeanor charges for filing a false report before participating in a racial bias-focused "restorative justice" program as part of a deal to get her charges dismissed, appeared on the Tuesday episode of cancel-culture focused podcast "Honestly with Bari Weiss" to publicly tell her side of the story.
“I don’t know that as a woman alone in a park that I had another option,” other than calling the cops on Christian Cooper, Amy Cooper told the host, according to the NY Post.
In Amy Cooper's retelling of the May 2020 incident, Christian Cooper — who she said had "been very dominant towards me" though he had not physically approached her — was holding his bike helmet in one hand, luring her dog with treats in his other hand while also, she realized, filming her with his cell phone.
That's when she approached him and, she says, his demeanor changed.
"Suddenly, you know, almost this victimized voicing, 'Don’t come near me. Don’t come any closer,'” Amy Cooper told Weiss.
"To me that’s even more terrifying now because you’ve gone from screaming at me — if you kept screaming at me, at least it was consistent, but now his whole verbal demeanor has changed,” she added.
After Christian Cooper refused to quit filming her, Amy Cooper resolved to call 911 on him.
"I’d explored all my options. I tried to leave. I tried to look for anyone who’s around,” she told Weiss, though none of that — especially any alleged effort to leave — was evident on Christian Cooper's video from that morning.
"It was my last attempt to sort of hope that he would step down and leave me alone."
On the video taken by Christian Cooper, Amy Cooper told him that she was going to call 911 and said, "I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life," which both Christian Cooper (and prosecutors in Amy Cooper's case) took as an implicit threat that she hoped to invoke what she assumed would be the implicit bias of the responding officers.
On the portion of the 911 call by Amy Cooper that Christian Cooper recorded, she told emergency dispatchers, twice "There is a man, African American, he has a bicycle helmet and he is recording me and threatening me and my dog," after which her voice became more audibly frantic and she shouted, "I'm being threatened by a man in the Ramble, please send the cops immediately."
Christian Cooper ended the recording by saying, "Thank you," after Amy Cooper leashed her dog, while she was still on the phone with 911. Prosecutors in her case said that, after that, police officers called her back and she told them that the man had tried to assault her and her dog, which was not true. When the officers arrived at the scene, Amy Cooper reportedly retracted her statement that Christian Cooper had tried to assault her.
Amy Cooper was fired from her job at Franklin Templeton after Christian Cooper's video of their interaction went viral. She is currently suing her former employer for racial discrimination, asking for unspecified damages.
In the May 2021 suit, she called Christian Cooper an "overzealous birdwatcher" and claimed that she was "frightened to death after being selected as the next target" of the birdwatching Cooper.
In 2020, Amy Cooper had acknowledged that Christian Cooper was well within his rights to request that she leash her dog in an area in which leashes are required, and apologized to Cooper and his family for her "unacceptable" behavior, stating that she understood why people were judging her.
After participating in the restorative justice training in order to get her charges dismissed, prosecutors had said, "Ms. Cooper’s therapist reported that it was a moving experience and that Ms. Cooper learned a lot in their sessions together."
On Weiss's podcast, Amy Cooper said that she would like to speak to Christian Cooper directly.
“I have zillion questions of course in my head or things I’d like to say, but the one that really, I really would just like to start and open this conversation with is, ‘You scared me,'" she told the podcaster.
"And really just leave it there and leave it to him to respond back to me as to what he wants to say back to that because I think that opens the door to a conversation.”
Restorative justice is a relatively new way to adjudicate criminal cases and remains a controversial one.
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