Amy Cooper, the white woman who called the police in May and falsely accused a Black man of threatening her life after he asked her to leash her dog in Central Park, faces charges for the incident, prosecutors announced Monday.
Cooper, 41, will be charged with filing a false report, a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to a year in jail, for making the May 25 complaint against Christian Cooper, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said.
“Good,” Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted after the announcement. “Her racist behavior could have had dire consequences for a Black man. Glad she’ll face consequences of her own.”
The Memorial Day incident, captured in a now-infamous viral video, occurred the same day George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police and has since spurred nationwide discussions about racial injustice and white privilege.
“Today our office initiated a prosecution of Amy Cooper for falsely reporting an incident in the third degree,” Cyrus R. Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, said in a statement. “Our office will provide the public with additional information as the case proceeds. 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.”
Authorities say on May 25, Cooper was walking with her dog through the Ramble in Central Park, a woodsy area of the New York City sanctuary where dogs must be leashed, when Christian Cooper, 57, approached her. Cooper, an avid bird watcher and public relations professional, asked the 41-year-old white woman to leash her dog but she refused. The two individuals are not related.
In the video taken by Christian Cooper, Amy Cooper gets increasingly upset by his request and states she is going to call the police and tell them, “There’s an African American man threatening my life.”
“I’m in the Ramble, there is a man, African-American, he has a bicycle helmet and he is recording me and threatening me and my dog,” Amy Cooper is then heard yelling in the phone to the 911 operator while gripping her dog’s collar. Before hanging up the phone, she adds: “I am being threatened by a man in the Ramble, please send the cops immediately!”
Before the video ends, Christian Cooper calmly thanks her when she finally puts her dog on a leash. His sister, Melody, later posted the video on social media, where it quickly went viral—igniting worldwide outrage over Amy Cooper’s white privilege.
The day after the incident, Cooper was fired from her job as the head of insurance portfolio management at Franklin Templeton, with the company asserting that it does not “tolerate racism of any kind.” She also surrendered her dog, Henry, to the shelter he was adopted from, but Cooper has since been reunited with the cocker spaniel.
In a public apology issued on May 26, Cooper tried to explain she “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 added that when Chris Cooper began to offer her dog treats, he said, “You’re not going to like what I’m going to do next”—which made her feel “threatened.”
“He had every right to request that I leash my dog in an area where it was required. 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,” Cooper said in the statement. “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.”