The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office filed a misdemeanor charge Wednesday against the woman who called police on a man birdwatching in Central Park in May and revealed that she had made a second 911 call about the encounter.
Amy Cooper was charged in New York County Criminal Court with falsely reporting an incident in the third degree, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.
The charge stems from a May 25 confrontation in The Ramble, a wooded area of Central Park, between Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper (no relation). Amid a disagreement over her unleashed dog, Amy Cooper called 911 and said in an increasingly frantic tone that a Black man was threatening her, according to video of the incident he filmed.
“I’m taking a picture and calling the cops,” she is heard saying in the video. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”
In addition, according to the criminal complaint and as stated in court, Amy Cooper made a second, previously unreported call to police and repeated the accusation, adding that the man “tried to assault her,” the DA’s office said.
“When responding officers arrived, Ms. Cooper admitted that the male had not ‘tried to assault’ or come into contact with her,” a release from the DA’s office said.
The viral video of the incident, the same day Minneapolis Police killed George Floyd, made clear the dangers that Black men face in America and highlighted the particular challenges that Black birdwatchers and naturalists face.
Prosecutor says her 911 call was a ‘hoax’
Cooper and her attorney appeared before a judge on Wednesday morning. No plea was entered and the case was adjourned until November 17 as the prosecutor and defense work toward a possible disposition.
The prosecutor indicated they are exploring with the defense a program designed to have the defendant take responsibility for her actions but also educate her and the community on the harm caused by such actions.
In a statement, Vance described Amy Cooper’s conduct as racist and said the call was a “hoax.”
“Our Office is committed to safety, justice, and anti-racism, and we will hold people who make false and racist 911 calls accountable,” Vance said in a statement. “As alleged in the complaint, Amy Cooper engaged in racist criminal conduct when she falsely accused a Black man of trying to assault her in a previously unreported second call with a 911 dispatcher. Fortunately, no one was injured or killed in the police response to Ms. Cooper’s hoax.
“Our Office will pursue a resolution of this case which holds Ms. Cooper accountable while healing our community, restoring justice, and deterring others from perpetuating this racist practice.”
Amy Cooper’s attorney had no comment.
In comments to CNN in May, Amy Cooper said she wanted to “publicly apologize to everyone.”
“I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way,” she said.
Christian Cooper has expressed ambivalence toward her criminal prosecution and said he is not cooperating with the investigation.
In a statement to CNN on Wednesday, he indicated his focus was on broader issues.
“My focus has been and continues to be on fixing policing and addressing systemic racism like we saw in that incident,” Cooper said, adding that “the most immediate thing we can do'” is vote President Donald Trump “out of the White House.”