Woman Who Called 911 in Central Park Charged With False Assault Report

Charging Amy Cooper over her Central Park encounter with a Black birder, prosecutors revealed Wednesday that the Upper West Sider invented an assault claim in a second 911 call that day.

Amy Cooper with her dog on May 25, talking to Christian Cooper in New York’s Central Park. (Christian Cooper via AP)

MANHATTAN (CN) — The white woman who gained notoriety for falsely accusing a Black man of threatening her in Central Park actually called 911 twice that day.

Cooper, 41, was arraigned Wednesday over that previously unreported second call where she alleged an assault by Christian Cooper that never occurred. The parties are not related.

“Fortunately, no one was injured or killed in the police response to Ms. Cooper’s hoax,” Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. said in a statement.

The misdemeanor proceeding, held via video, came five months after Christian Cooper’s video of the first call went viral.

“I’m going to call the cops,” Amy Cooper says breathlessly as Christian Cooper instructs her not to come any closer. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life.”

The video shows Amy Cooper then telling police dispatcher that “an African-American man” is recording her with his cellphone and threatening her and her dog.

Christian Cooper posted the video on Facebook, and his sister did the same on Twitter, explaining that the dispute began when Amy Cooper refused to leash her cocker spaniel. Dogs are required to be on leashes at all times in the area of Central Park known as the Ramble where the encounter took place.

The video shows Amy Cooper’s dog flailing and yelping as she grabs it roughly.

While the video shows only the first call, the second call that alleged an assault is described in the complaint by Rebekah Miranda, a 911 dispatcher for the NYPD. Miranda is quoted as saying she spoke with a woman who identified herself as Amy Cooper at 8:17 a.m. on May 25. Amy Cooper said on the call that a man tried to lure her dog over to him with treats.

NYPD Officer Francisco Tejada responded to the scene, at which point Amy Cooper admitted that the man had not tried to assault or touch her in any way, according to the complaint.

A prominent birder in the city who sits on the board at the New York City Audubon Society, Christian Cooper has said he would not help prosecutors in their case against Cooper, saying that it “lets white people off the hook” for bigotry.

“They can scream for her head while leaving their own prejudices unexamined,” he wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece in July.

Executive Assistant DA Joan Illuzzi said in a statement that the way Cooper used the police “in a way that was both racially offensive and designed to intimidate is something that cannot be ignored.” Illuzi added that the office will try to get Cooper to admit responsibility for her actions. “We hope that this process will enlighten, heal, and prevent similar harm to our community in the future,” she said.

Amy Cooper did not enter a plea in the Wednesday proceeding. She issued a public apology on May 26, among multiple statements to the press where she lamented that her “entire life is being destroyed” and insisted that she is not racist.

In addition to facing immediate online backlash after the incident, Amy Cooper lost her job at Franklin Templeton and had her dog temporarily taken away. 

Vance announced the initiation of a prosecution against Amy Cooper in July.

The woman’s attorney, Robert Barnes, declined to comment on the charge brought Wednesday. Barnes has represented clients in a number of racially and politically charged cases, including the Covington Catholic school students and Alex Jones in his battle with Sandy Hook families.

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