Central Park: Amy Cooper has criminal case against her dismissed

Amy Cooper
Christian Cooper's video of Amy Cooper calling the police on him went viral last year (Image: Christian Cooper)

A white woman who called police on a black man bird watching in New York’s Central Park has had the criminal case against her dismissed.

Prosecutors say Amy Cooper completed a therapy course addressing racial bias and asked for her charge to be dropped.

A video of Ms Cooper went viral in 2020 and sparked outrage across the US.

In it she was seen threatening Christian Cooper, no relation, with the police after he reportedly asked her to put her dog on a lead.

The incident happened the same day that unarmed black man George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis, triggering weeks of national and global anti-racism protests.

Ms Cooper apologised after the video went viral but lost her job and was later charged with filing a false police report.

Christian Cooper, who is prominent in the New York bird watching community, posted the encounter on Facebook and said it came after he had asked her to put her dog on a lead in an area where it was required.

The video showed her telling Mr Cooper that she would tell police “there’s an African-American man threatening my life” before she is seen calling emergency services in a distressed tone to say an “African American man” was “threatening me and my dog” and asked dispatchers to “please send the cops immediately!”

Prosecutors later said that Ms Cooper had repeated the claim and accused Mr Cooper of trying to assault her during a second call.

At the time, District Attorney Cyrus Vance said Ms Cooper had “engaged in racist criminal conduct” and said it was “fortunate” that “no one was injured or killed in the police response to Ms Cooper’s hoax”.

But on Tuesday the single misdemeanour charge against her was dropped on the basis that Ms Cooper had completed a five-session educational therapy programme.

Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said the sessions were “designed for introspection and progress” and 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”.

She was offered the programme as part of a restorative justice initiative in part because of her lack of criminal background, the prosecutor said.

In a tweeted statement, Ms Cooper’s lawyer Robert Barnes thanked officials for the decision and suggested she might seek further legal action over the incident.

Mr Cooper has not publicly responded to news of the charge being dropped.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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