Amy Cooper Charged with False Report for Calling Police on Black Birdwatcher

Amy Cooper, who called police on a Black birdwatcher named Christian Cooper in Central Park on May 25, was charged on Monday with filing a false report, a misdemeanor. District Attorney Cyrus Vance said “We are strongly committed to holding perpetrators of this conduct accountable.”

Birdwatcher Christian Cooper had confronted Amy (no relation) in The Ramble, a wooded section of the park in the high 70s, to ask her to leash her dog. Dogs are required to be on leashes at all times in that section of the park.

When Amy did not leash the dog, Christian told her “if you’re going to do what you want, I’m going to do what I want, but you’re not going to like it,” he wrote afterward on Facebook. He then took out dog treats and offered them to the dog, at which point Amy called the police, claiming in an increasingly agitated tone that an “African-American man” was “threatening me and my dog.” (The police arrived after the two had left the area and classified the confrontation as a verbal dispute.)

Christian filmed the call, and he and his sister published it on social media. Amy’s actions were denounced as dangerous racist provocations by commentators including the mayor. She was fired and handed her dog back to the rescue organization where she had adopted it, though she has since gotten the dog back. Amy apologized and said she had “made false assumptions about his intentions,” claiming she was frightened by his statements.

Local State Senator Brian Benjamin also introduced legislation to make these sorts of incidents to be charged as hate crimes.

Christian Cooper has since called for authorities to more stringently enforce the laws against off-leash dogs.

People convicted of filing a false report as a misdemeanor face up to a year in jail.

NEWS | 66 comments | permalink
    1. ben says:

      Still can’t believe they gave the dog back to her, after what she did to almost strangle the dog.

      • Norrie says:

        “Still can’t believe they gave the dog back to her, after what she did to almost strangle the dog.”

        She panicked and got a bit rough in trying to get her dog away from a stranger who was trying to LURE the dog, and whom she had every reason to believe was going to harm her dog.

      • Deborah Moran says:

        If you watch the video, you will see that she was unaware, and the second she notices,she fixes it. He saw the whole thing and said nothing. He had just tried to take her dog right before the video started and she was still trying to keep the dog with her. Most people would panic if a stranger threatened them and then tried to take their dog. In fact, Chris Cooper says he counts on that to get people to leash their dogs in his Facebook post.

    2. Woody says:

      This woman is obviously a nut. For whatever it’s worth she apologised. She’s no danger to anyone (except maybe her dog).

      She should be sentenced to therapy and let’s move in.

      Crime is up, the city is rapidly going down the toilet and people are fleeing NYC.

      Cyrus Vance should devote his resources towards more important problems rather exploiting Amy Cooper for cheap publicity.

      • EdNY says:

        I must respectfully disagree. I don’t see the city going down the toilet at all. Yes, crime is up but it’s hardly near levels when the city was in dire straits. Ms. Cooper will undoubtedly be sentenced to no time. Her call was way out of line and not only could have diverted police resources but resulted in harm to Mr. Cooper. Her mental condition, whatever it was, is not an excuse. That’s for the judge to take into account.

        • UWSHebrew says:

          Do you actually live in New York City? You don’t see the massive crime wave? Shootings? Murders? What do you think we are, the audience of MSNBC? 200% increase in shootings since this time last year! Biggest number since 1996!

          • EdNY says:

            I’ve lived here my entire life and I don’t see this as a long-term trend.

            • UWSHebrew says:

              If this were not such a serious situation, your reply would be considered humorous.

          • Wijmlet says:

            As EdNY says “I’ve lived here my entire life and I don’t see this as a long-term trend.”

          • woodcider says:

            “Massive crime wave”
            Hyperbolic. Come back when it’s a circa 1980s levels. Oh that’s right, there’s no drug trade to sustain those kinds of numbers. NYC is still safer than its ever been.

        • Mark K. Ellar says:

          I second that. The city is not going down the toilet. Those who like to say that have probably always had a fatalistic view of many things, including probably some aspects of their lives.

      • Jen says:

        She is an easy and desirable target in today’s climate. Christopher Cooper with his dog treats is untouchable.
        Cyrus Vance never prosecutes the cases that are difficult and are a real problem; only the ones that will bring him publicity. How come this guy is still in the office?

        • Norrie says:

          “Christopher Cooper with his dog treats is untouchable.”

          Why is a guy who carries around dog treats for the purpose of luring the dogs of people he has disagreements with untouchable?

    3. GG says:

      This woman makes me wish we still did the tar and feathering thing.

      Anyway, whatever happens isn’t enough in my opinion. This woman should be ashamed of herself and banished from civilized society.

      • EGF says:

        @ CG – That’s unnecessarily harsh. You are no better than her if you truly feel this way. I in no way condone her behavior, and I support her being held accountable for her abhorrent behavior, but to literally ruin someone’s life in every way over this seems pretty extreme. Give people a chance to learn from their mistakes. Life isn’t an all or nothing proposition.

        • jsv says:

          As a fellow adult in the room, I wholeheartedly agree with you.

        • Danielle Remp says:

          Thank you for writing this EGF. I, likewise, do not condone her behavior toward Christian Cooper, and, also, I do not think that the rest of her (still-young) life should be condemned to ruin.

          But, judging from what I’ve read about her past (including her whole saga regarding a man named Martin Priest), I come back with the opinion that she has lived with gnawing psychological problems for a long time.

          In order to learn from her many mistakes, I’m afraid that she will need to spend considerable time in self-examination and in therapy. I hope that she will find her way.

        • NPK says:

          THANK YOU! Finally someone with a brain and a moral compass as well.

        • woodcider says:

          She tried to have a man abused by cops. With the real risk of being killed due to old racist tropes that she was weaponizing. Making her into a object lesson on why making false reports is not permissible in society is perfect justice. Next time someone might think before using the police as their personal hit squad.

          • Norrie says:

            “She tried to have a man abused by cops.”

            If a stranger walked up to me in the park, started hassling me over a triviality, and then tried to lure my dog after telling me that I wouldn’t like what he was about to do, I’d call the cops too.

        • Danielle Remp says:

          It speaks volumes that Christian Cooper has indicated he will not cooperate in Amy Cooper’s prosecution. “Bringing her more misery just seems like piling on,” he said to the NYT on Tuesday.

          “So if the DA feels the need to pursue charges, Christian added, “he should pursue charges. But he can do that without me.”

    4. UWSHebrew says:

      Thank goodness she was arrested. This was the issue most concerning the quality of life I’ve experienced in recent days. Fireworks / cherry bombs until 3am? Shootings and a murder a few blocks from where I live (Columbia University)? Minor nonsense, because I was constantly praying that this woman would be off our streets, because she is our greatest threat. Thank you NYPD, thank you Mayor DeBlasio.

      • EdNY says:

        First of all, as far as I can tell she was not arrested, just given a desk ticket. Second, if this is a “quality of life” issue, it’s about the quality of Mr. Cooper’s life had the police shown up and believed that he was assaulting Ms. Cooper, which he was not. I don’t see how this has anything to do with the police finding and arresting the perpetrators in the recent spate of shootings. This wasn’t even a decision on the part of the police.

    5. Jake van Hoensbroek says:

      If the exchange is as described, no jury will convict her: .“if you’re going to do what you want, I’m going to do what I want, but you’re not going to like it,” . That sure sounds like a threat to me. If this case involved a black woman and a white man, or even a white woman and white man, we would not be having a discussion about criminal charges.

      • Fellow C.P. birder says:

        Mr. Cooper’s statement sounds threatening to me, as well.

        Perhaps when Mr. Cooper saw that the woman was clearly “agitated”, yet trying to leash her dog, he could have moved on and allowed the situation to de-escalate.

        I see blame on both sides, however, I believe Ms. Cooper needs professional help.

        • Charly says:

          Agreed. I also have dogs but would have leashed them in the Brambles. But if anybody would have threatened my dogs, like Mr. Cooper seemingly indicated, with premeditation, that he would possibly poison hers, I would have been concerned and angry. I wouldn’t have called the police saying a Black man was threatening me. But still. She clearly was in the wrong and needs help, but he isn’t without fault either.

          • Charly says:

            The Ramble, not the Brambles. 🙂

          • JL says:

            How can someone threaten your dog if it was on-leash?

            I would also suggest not charging someone if you feel threatened by their actions, you know… because it can escalate.

            This might be the 3rd or 4th time WSR is running “The Coopers”, and many UWS’ers comments’ still don’t get it. Therefore I agree with the DA’s office.

            • woodcider says:

              It’s because they strongly identify with Amy Cooper. In her they see themselves and this affront to their perceived place in society threatens the hell out of them. Bigotry is founded in fear and they are afraid.

            • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

              I agree. The insensitivity to Black New Yorkers’ concerns, and even barely disguised bigotry, on the part of many commenters really is a wake up call.

            • Charly says:

              You are missing my point. I said she was clearly wrong (and her dog should have been on a leash in the first place), and needs help. What she did was unquestionably racist and certainly put Mr. Cooper’s life at risk. I fully support the BLM movement and think we need a complete examination and overall of how we deal with race in every aspects of society. Having said that, I still think that, no matter who you are, purposely threatening that you are going to give someone else’s dog potentially poisonous treats was wrong in any circumstance. I often see people smoking in the park, which is illegal. I say so and am mostly ignored or cursed at. I don’t say, “I am going to do something to your cigarette and you are not going to like it.” Nor, am I waiting around with a water bottle and following the smoker until he/she/they put it out.

    6. Rachel says:

      What a total waste of resources and money. She was an idiot and has suffered all sorts of consequences already but this is totally over the top and is a simple case of pandering to the mob. At a time where crime is rising by the day, people are being shot in all 5 boroughs and our incompetent and moronic Antifa loving Mayor continues to make excuses, this is the thing the DA decides is worthy. Pathetic.

    7. Leon says:

      I called out a woman in Riverside Park near the flowers in the low 90s for having her dog off leash around noon this weekend. She and her friend glared at me then laughed. I kept walking, shaking my head.

      Is this the biggest problem in the world? No. But people’s lack of concern for the rules and their fellow citizens is very sad and demonstrates the “rules don’t apply to me” that Trump is promoting.

    8. Bob Lamm says:

      She filed a false police report that was surely dangerous for Mr. Cooper. I’m glad she is being prosecuted. Black Lives Matter.

      • Cato says:

        Mr. Cooper threatened her dog, just as she reported. Why isn’t *he* being arrested and prosecuted?

        • woodcider says:

          If you find treats threatening, maybe you should keep your dog on its leash.

          • Norrie says:

            “If you find treats threatening, maybe you should keep your dog on its leash.”

            ___

            “If you’re going to do what you want to do, I’m going to do what I to do, but I DON’T THINK YOU’LL LIKE IT. Here puppy!”

            “He won’t come to you.”

            “WE’LL SEE ABOUT THAT.” (pulls out treats)

            How is that NOT threatening?

            THEN she said “DON’T TOUCH MY DOG.” And THEN she called the cops.

            I would have called the cops, too, if some stranger walked up to me in a park, told I wouldn’t like what he was about to do, tried to lure my dog.

      • GiveUsABreak says:

        All Lives Matter

    9. dannyb says:

      The kind readers at Gothamist are pretty sure that Ms. Cooper has returned to Toronto, Ontario. And there’s no way in hell that they’d extradite her to NYC just to satisfy DA Vance’s public relations game.
      So please, Mr. DA, stop with wasting taxpayer money on nonsense like this. She’s already been shamed, lost her job, and is marked for life.
      Come to think of it, if your office has all these spare resources that you can waste all this staff time and money on nonsense like this, maybe it’s time We, The Taxpayers, had a serious look at your budget.
      https://gothamist.com/news/manhattan-da-will-prosecute-white-woman-who-called-police-black-bird-watcher#comments

    10. Henry Lebo says:

      Try, if you can, for a moment to set aside the hot topic race relations issue.

      This is the most public display of the misuse and abuse of first responder time and resources that I can remember and you want it to be ignored? It’s a misdemeanor folks. It will be processed in a line of 250 other non-newsworthy minor misdeeds in court one morning. She’s already wasted much more of our law enforcement’s time than will be used in prosecuting this misdemeanor in a line of cases.

    11. Rosalind Heid says:

      This is horrific. /any Cooper is being destroyed in plain view. Now she will go to prison. Why doesn’t anyone see this as misogyny and hatred of women. Sure, she made a stupid, prejudiced call, but this is too, too much. Does Amy Cooper have any support???

      • Mary says:

        Calls like Amy Cooper made to the police also do irreparable harm to women, specifically to those women who are truly in danger of being raped or otherwise attacked. She cried wolf, and subsequently all women suffer the consequences, at worst of being doubted when trying to report an actual assault.
        For all the harm she caused in a matter of seconds, for how she handled the simple request to leash her dog in an area that requires it, she’s being charged with a misdemeanor. As a woman, I’m fine with that.

      • ST says:

        The NYPD has more important things to do than field false claims that hide hate. Not to mention just plain frivolous calls. I think long and hard before I bother them with a 911 call.

      • Merliton says:

        Ask yourself one simple question. If you was a white police officer responding to this incident and there was no video recording how would you handle it? Who would you believe if you only have the 911 call and the testimony of the two people involved? Would you believe the black man with binoculars claiming to be a birdwatcher, claiming he told the woman to please get back? Would you believe the educated, professional white woman peacefully walking her dog? Why not arrest the black man and charge him with aggravated menacing and attempted rape so we can keep people like him off the streets? The camera never lies but unfortunately the camera isn’t always present.

      • Beth says:

        I do.

        In this challenging time, white women have become the dumping ground for people’s anxiety, fear, and anger. It’s coming from all sides – left/right, white/black, men/women. Unfortunately, many people are not conscious of their sexism and/or misogyny. The best we can do is confront it and name it at every turn to raise awareness.

        And to the woman who was harassed here several
        days ago for wondering why the 95th Street tennis courts were the only ones open, I’m sorry. You were on the receiving end of the treatment I mentioned above.

    12. Veronica says:

      Neither of these two are winning any awards. But why after saying “if you’re going to do what you want, I’m going to do what I want, but you’re not going to like it,” did he offer her dog treats? What might she have thought he was going to do to the dog? Very likely, nothing good. Perhaps a little equality in the criticism of these two.
      They deserve each other.

    13. Tim says:

      If any man said to my/your wife/daughter/mother “i’m going to do what i want, AND you’re not going to like it” for any reason, I would definitely consider that a threat……has anyone asked what he meant by that?

      • Josh says:

        No one had to ask because he explained what he meant by that. He was going to give the dog treats and film her until she put the dog on a leash.

        I have a very hard time believing she felt threatened after watching the video where she came towards him over and over again when there was no reason for her to do so. The video makes it painfully obvious that the call was staged and did not match reality. Did you watch it?

    14. Rob G. says:

      “I’m gonna do what I want, and you’re not gonna like it.” Sorry, folks, but that is a threat, any way you cut it, and it’s reasonable that this woman panicked. But she should have just picked up the dog and ran away. Both of these Coopers are idiots!

    15. Sue says:

      Better than nothing. But not enough. It was a Hate Crime as well.

    16. People watching says:

      And to add one thing in there. Christian cooper, despite me thinking both of them were wrong in this incident and afterwards, is right ( it I agree) in that there needs to be more police presence in the park. I don’t think they should be hurt people or to arrest them but some kind of security to enforce laws such as leash or unleash. What will happen when you have entities that are not state or government funded coming in to enforce codes ( and wish this was done in a better more humane way) people will fight with eachother- who wants to be told what to do by some random person? Who wants to have some random person walk by break the rules and ruin your day? Neither of these people wanted this, I believe Christian cooper had been “ ready for intransigence” because the area is neglected in terms of protection. I think that Amy cooper must feel unsafe to go to the other side of the park because, as she said, irs too dangerous. Imagine two toddlers arguing about food while the problem lies in there not being food. Take some responsibility someone from uptop, not just punishing civilians. And again, this is another scenario and chance for authorities to satisfy everyone. Will they? Probably not but I hope.

    17. Ted says:

      I see a parallel here between what some people are calling “a threat” and the crazy couple who pulled guns on protesters in St. Louis. Mr. Cooper’s statement is not a threat and no court would deem it such. It lacks specificity. It is intentionally vague and contains no language relating to violence or the prospect of harm.

      The couple in St. Louis said they were in fear of their lives due to the anger they perceived from protestors. The problem for them is someone being angry does not justify the threat of deadly force.

      In each case the people claiming to be threatened have decided they were under threat due to their own biases and not the reality of the situation. The protestors were peaceful and orderly. Mr. Cooper was calm and non confrontational, requesting only that Ms. Cooper comply with park regulations.

      A complainants poor judgement does not make the subject of their complaint a criminal. Just because you deem something to be true doesn’t make it so as Ms. Cooper and the St. Louis couple are discovering.

    18. Will says:

      She threatened to lynch him, he threatened to give her dog treats. There is no sympathy for her. The perspective of some folks in these comments is very concerning. Do you all know who Emmett Till was and how he ended up dead? A white woman accused Till of whistling at her and the town had him killed.

    19. Mark Moore says:

      A misdemeanor charge brought weeks after the fact? C’mon, I’m no fan of Amy Cooper but this should have be filed at the time or not at all. Now it seems obviously political.

    20. Rodger Lodger says:

      I am a very good person so I think the death penalty is insufficient.

    21. S says:

      Well, she didn’t actually threaten to lynch him, and it’s factually wrong to say that. But moving on to the broader point, although I think it’s been well said already: Amy Cooper overreacted, and didn’t look good doing it. She absolutely did not need to call 911, or freak out the way she did. I don’t know why that happened, and neither do any of you. And Christian Cooper did say something I would have taken as a threat. Again, not worthy of a i11 call, but the way I read it, he did in fact say things that I might have perceived as threatening. The question I have is, granting that she was wrong to call the police and flip out, what is the right punishment? Lose her job? Be vilified? Be called horrible things? Be prosecuted? All of the above. That strikes me as a lot of punishment for someone who made a mistake and whose apology was actually pretty credible sounding. I am white, so I don’t pretend to put myself in Christian Cooper’s shoes. I just feel that the reactionary judgement is disproportionate to the offense in this specific case.

    22. robert says:

      While she obviously did wrong and should face the consequences, I find Vances actions rather interesting. There have been any number of anti Trump hoax crimes in NYC which required large amounts of time and money being spent before complaint recanted on their own or when evidence was brought to light during the investigation such as video showing the complaint but no attack. No one was charged in those fake crimes. The saddest of that is that when a real crime occurs people may say oh its just another hoax.
      I just wish Vance would file similar charges against others, especially the rash of documented hate crime fakes that have happened. It is beyond the pale to do that, to many have been injured and died to gain and keep our rights to be screwing around.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        Remember, this is the same Vance who when presented with audio proof of Harvey Weinstein’s agressions, he refused to prosecute. You’re wasting your time thinking about Vance and his motives, it’s all quite clear what the DA is all about.

    23. Real Woody says:

      Per CNN: Even Christian Cooper says this prosecution is nonsense and is not cooperating with the DA’s virtue signaling investigation. https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/08/us/christian-cooper-central-park/index.html

      • UWS birder says:

        Kudos to Mr. Cooper, enough is enough!

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        reply to Woody:

        you have replaced Christian Cooper’s actual sentiments with your own interpretation (“nonsense”, “virtue signaling”.)

        Here is what Mr. Cooper actually said:

        “On the one hand, she’s already paid a steep price,” Mr. Cooper said in a statement on Tuesday. “That’s not enough of a deterrent to others? Bringing her more misery just seems like piling on.” But he added that he understood there was a greater principle at stake and that this should be defended. “So if the DA feels the need to pursue charges, he should pursue charges. But he can do that without me.”

        https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/07/nyregion/amy-cooper-central-park-false-report-charge.html

        “Virtue signaling” is a loaded term, used most frequently by the right wing. Apparently one can’t decry racism without right wingers like Tucker Carlson making accusations of “virtue signaling.”

        I’m agnostic on whether or not it is right to prosecute Ms. Cooper. But it’s obvious from the sum total of comments on this thread that a too-large percentage of West Siders do not understand the racist content of her actions. That is the bigger concern.

        • Real Woody says:

          Bruce,

          Thank you for your comments. I should have quoted Christian directly and wrote “piling on”. I purposely chose “virtue signaling”, which I personally see displayed by persons of all political persuasions, but perhaps grandstanding would have been a better choice. The reason I feel this charge is grandstanding is because I believe the DA is using this to prosecute Amy for racism or prejudice which, while abhorrent, is not a crime. I believe that a reasonable person will find that Amy could have felt threatened (I believe she described the situation as terrifying) and is not guilty of false reporting.

    24. Danielle Remp says:

      I don’t understand how posting videos works.

      Will Mr. Cooper make money out of the video?