The criminal case against a white woman recorded on video calling police to claim that a Black bird-watcher was threatening her in New York City’s Central Park was dropped Tuesday.
Prosecutors in Manhattan Supreme Court, the main trial court, announced that they were no longer pursuing a misdemeanor charge against the woman, Amy Cooper, who was accused of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree.
She completed five “psychoeducation and therapy” sessions that helped her “appreciate that racial identities shape our lives” and that “we cannot use them to harm ourselves or others,” Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi said.
“Ms. Cooper’s therapist reported that it was a moving experience and that Ms. Cooper learned a lot in their sessions together,” Illuzzi said. “Having completed the restorative justice program to our satisfaction, we now move to dismiss.”
Cooper’s defense attorney struck a more defiant tone in a statement issued after court. While thanking prosecutors “for their integrity,” the lawyer, Robert Barnes, lashed out on Twitter.
“Others rushed to the wrong conclusion based on inadequate investigation & they may yet face legal consequences,” Barnes tweeted.
Cooper’s case made national headlines in late May when she came upon the bird-watcher, Christian Cooper, while walking her off-leash dog in Central Park.
Christian Cooper, who is not related to Amy Cooper, asked her to put her dog on a leash and offered the pooch a dog treat before she called police. Christian Cooper recorded the encounter. The video made the rounds on social media and drew widespread outrage as an example of police being called on an African American who was not committing any crime.
“I’m taking a picture and calling the cops,” Amy Cooper could be heard saying in the viral video. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”
Christian Cooper declined to comment Tuesday.
Illuzzi said: “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.
“The simple principle is that one cannot use the police to threaten another and, in this case, in a racially offensive and charged manner. 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.”
Later Tuesday, Christian Cooper posted a statement on Facebook, again declining to discuss the case but this time mentioning Amy Cooper in arguing for Washington, D.C., statehood.
“I am far more outraged by the US Congress, which continues to deny the mostly Black and brown people of the District of Columbia statehood and the representation every American deserves, than by anything Amy Cooper did,” according to his statement.
“That gross racial injustice could be fixed by Congress now, today, and that’s what people should be focused on—not last year’s events in Central Park.”