News February 17, 2021 at 08:30 am

Charge dropped against White woman who called police on Black bird-watcher in Central Park

Francis Akhalbey | Content Manager

Francis Akhalbey February 17, 2021 at 08:30 am

February 17, 2021 at 08:30 am | News

Amy Cooper drew the ire of the public last year after she was filmed telling a 911 dispatcher she was being threatened by a Black man when she wasn't -- Photo Credit: Snapshot from Christian Cooper's Facebook video

Amy Cooper, the White New York woman who called the police and falsely claimed she was being threatened by a Black man during a confrontation in Central Park in May last year, has had the misdemeanor criminal charge against her dropped after she completed racial bias training.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office moved to drop the charge on Tuesday, CNN reported. “Given the issues at hand and Ms. Cooper’s lack of criminal background, we offered her, consistent with our position on many misdemeanor cases involving a first arrest, an alternative, restorative justice resolution; designed not just to punish but to educate and promote community healing,” Joan Illuzzi, Assistant DA, said in court, according to a statement.

Illuzzi said the education and therapy classes on racial equity Cooper undertook “focused on the ways in which Ms. Cooper could appreciate that racial identities shape our lives but we cannot use them to harm ourselves or others.”

“Having completed 5 sessions, Ms. Cooper’s therapist reported that it was a moving experience and that Ms. Cooper learned a lot in their sessions together,” Illuzzi said.

Amy made national headlines last year after the Black man she wrongly accused – Christian Cooper (no relation) – shared a video of their May 25 confrontation on his Facebook page. Mr. Cooper, a birdwatcher, said he got into an argument with Amy Cooper after he told her to leash her dog and she refused. Mr. Cooper was watching birds at a heavily wooded area of Central Park known as the Ramble when the incident occurred.

Mr. Cooper said he had told Amy, who was walking her pet, that dogs in the Ramble had to be leashed at all times but she refused to secure it. Things, however, escalated and Amy threatened to call the cops on Mr. Cooper.

“I’m taking a picture and calling the cops,” Amy is heard saying in the video. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”

During her conversation with the 911 dispatcher who returned the call, Amy reiterated Mr. Cooper “tried to assault her,” Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.’s office stated, according to CNN.

“When responding officers arrived, Ms. Cooper admitted that the male had not ‘tried to assault’ or come into contact with her,” the DA’s office said in a statement.

Amy, who was nicknamed “Central Park Karen” after the video went viral, drew the ire of the public for her actions. People drew similarities of their confrontation to past incidents where White women had wrongly accused Black men with the latter facing grave consequences as a result. She was charged with falsely reporting an incident in the third degree and faced up to a year in prison. Mr. Cooper, however, refused to cooperate with prosecutors investigating the case, saying Amy had “already paid a steep price” for her actions. Despite Mr. Cooper’s stance, Illuzzi noted it was prudent authorities took up the case.

“Mr. Cooper did not wish to participate in the criminal justice process but we determined that the defendant’s offense wasn’t solely against one individual but was a threat to the community if allowed to go unchecked,” Illuzzi said. “The simple principle is that one cannot use the police to threaten another and in this case, in a racially offensive and charged manner.

Though Amy later showed remorse for her actions, Illuzzi said things could have gone horribly wrong had the police been the first to get to Mr. Cooper.

“The police would have been in a position where they thought that Mr. Cooper had tried to assault the defendant. Certainly, he would have been held and held forcibly if he resisted,” she said in the statement.

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