caught on camera

White Woman in Central Park Confrontation With Black Birdwatcher Charged by Manhattan DA

The viral video from May showed a white woman calling police on a Black man and frantically claiming he was threatening her after a disagreement over leashing her dog

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What to Know

  • A viral video from late May shows a white woman frantically calling police on a Black man filming her after he asked her to leash her dog in a leash-mandatory area of Central Park
  • Amy Cooper, the woman in the video, later apologized for her behavior, which NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio called "racism, plain and simple"
  • She lost her job as outrage mounted and briefly surrendered her dog to an animal shelter; she now has been charged with falsely reporting an incident, the Manhattan district attorney's office said Monday

The white woman seen calling the NYPD to accuse a Black man of threatening her during a wild caught-on-camera confrontation in Central Park more than a month ago has been charged with falsely reporting an incident, the Manhattan district attorney's office said Monday.

Amy Cooper was issued a desk appearance ticket and is due to be arraigned on the misdemeanor charge in October in connection with the fight over a dog leash in the park back in May. Information on her attorney wasn't immediately known.

Amy Cooper apologized within 24 hours after part of the exchange, captured by Black birdwatcher Christian Cooper, who has no relation to her and was the subject of her tirade, went viral on social media. Outrage mounted, with even elected officials calling for an arrest. She lost her job over it.

The video shows the now-former insurance company executive frantically telling the NYPD she was being threatened after Christian Cooper asked her to leash her dog while in The Ramble section of the park. Leashing is required in that area.

In the video, Amy Cooper is seen asking Christian Cooper to stop recording her, or she would call the cops and tell them "there's an African American man threatening my life." She repeated the statement several times, each time sounding more distressed, while appearing to call 911 dispatch.

A white woman called the NYPD and accused a black man of threatening her following an exchange that started when the man asked the woman to leash her dog in Central Park. She's now issuing an apology after the video was seen millions of times. NBC New York's Checkey Beckford reports.

Meanwhile, Christian Cooper didn't appear to move any closer to Amy Cooper. He told NBC New York that he's an avid bird watcher and was in a popular spot for birders the morning of the confrontation. He said he only asked Amy Cooper to put her dog on the leash in the area because it's mandated at all times.

When Amy Cooper refused, he says he offered her dog a treat and started recording the incident. Amy Cooper later told NBC 4 New York she overreacted but claimed the man was screaming and she felt threatened because she didn't know what was in the dog treats. She also denied accusations she was racist.

"I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man, his family," she said in a phone call. "It was unacceptable and I humbly and fully apologize to everyone who’s seen that video, everyone that’s been offended … everyone who thinks of me in a lower light and I understand why they do."

Christian Cooper said at the time the only way she could have stopped the dog from eating the treat was to put it on the leash, adding, "At some point, she decided I’m gonna play the race card, I guess."

When Christian Cooper refused to stop recording her, Amy Cooper grabbed her dog's collar and moves away from him to call the police, the video shows. At one point, the dog appeared to nearly be choking from the leash pull. Amy Cooper voluntarily surrendered her dog to a shelter after the video sparked cries of animal cruelty, but she later was allowed to take the dog back home.

Christian Cooper said shortly after the confrontation that he continued recording because he wasn't going to be intimidated. "I'm not going to participate in my own dehumanization. I'm not going to feed into this," he said.

"We live in an age of Ahmaud Arbery where Black men are gunned down because of assumptions people make about Black men, Black people, and I’m just not going to participate in that," Christian Cooper told NBC New York.

By the time officers arrived, Christian Cooper had already left. More than 40 million people watched the video within 48 hours of its posting.

Mayor Bill de Blasio described it at the time as "racism, plain and simple."

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