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A New York City woman who called police on a Black birdwatcher in Central Park may be facing criminal charges—but the man who was the subject of the police call said he doesn’t plan to cooperate with authorities.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. announced earlier this week that officials had charged Amy Cooper with falsely reporting an incident in the third degree.
“Our office will provide the public with additional information as the case proceeds,” Vance said. “At this time I would like to encourage anyone who has been the target of false reporting to contact our Office. We are strongly committed to holding perpetrators of this conduct accountable.”
Amy Cooper became the focus of social media ire in May after Christian Cooper—no relation—posted a video on his Facebook page of Amy Cooper calling police and telling authorities that there was a Black man threatening her life.
The video, which has been viewed 5.7 million times on Facebook, sparked outrage across the country and cost Amy Cooper her job and—at least temporarily—her dog.
Christian Cooper told The New York Times after the charges against Amy Cooper were announced earlier this week that he doesn’t plan to cooperate with the prosecution’s investigation because he believes she has already suffered significant consequences for her actions.
“On the one hand, she’s already paid a steep price,” he said. “That’s not enough of a deterrent to others? Bringing her more misery just seems like piling it on.”
Christian Cooper said he understood if prosecutors felt like they still wanted to seek a conviction.
“So if the DA feels the need to pursue charges, he should pursue charges. But he can do that without me,” he said.
The charges spawned from an incident in May when Christian Cooper had been out birdwatching in an area of Central Park known as “The Ramble,” where dogs are required to be leashed.
Christian Cooper said he saw Amy Cooper’s dog “tearing through the plantings” and asked her to leash the dog, but she refused.
The situation escalated when Christian Cooper began to film the encounter and Amy Cooper repeatedly asked him to stop filming before saying she was going to take his picture and call the cops.
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life,” she said.
Christian Cooper responded by saying, “Please tell them whatever you like.”
Moments later, Amy Cooper can be seen talking to police repeatedly telling them an African-American man is “threatening me and my dog” before she becomes hysterical and pleads for them to send the police.
“I’m being threatened by a man in the Ramble,” she said. “Please send the cops immediately!”
The video ends after Amy Cooper eventually puts her dog on the leash and Christian Cooper can be heard telling her “thank you.”
After video of the interaction went viral, Amy Cooper was swiftly fired from her job at Franklin Templeton.
A rescue group also took temporary custody of her dog after many were concerned about the rough way she was handling the dog in the video, but the group announced in June that it planned to return the dog after determining it was in “good health.”
Amy Cooper quickly issued a public apology telling CNN in May that she was sorry for what had transpired.
“I’m not a racist,” she said. “I did not mean to harm that man in any way.”
Cooper’s attorney, Robert Barnes, also spoke out earlier this week saying he believed his client would be found not guilty of the charges against her and criticizing what he called the “cancel culture.”
“Based on a misunderstood 60 seconds of video, she lost her job, her home and her reputation,” he said in a statement to CNN. “Public shaming, lost employment, denied benefits & now prison time for a mis-perceived, momentary alleged 'wrong think'? For words said in a sixty second interaction where even the alleged victim calls this reaction way excessive? This criminalized, cancel culture is cancerous & precarious. That is why acquitting Amy Cooper is important."
If convicted, Amy Cooper could face a maximum penalty of one year behind bars. She’s slated to appear in court on the misdemeanor charge in October.
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