Central Park: Amy Cooper 'made second racist call' against birdwatcher

Image source, Christian Cooper
Image caption,
Christian Cooper filmed Amy Cooper after she refused to stop her dog running through woodland

A white woman who called police on a black man bird watching in New York's Central Park made a second call accusing him of attempted assault, prosecutors say.

Amy Cooper appeared in court on Wednesday charged with falsely reporting an incident.

A viral video showed Ms Cooper threatening Christian Cooper, no relation, with the police when he asked her to put her dog on a lead.

This happened on 25 May, Memorial Day.

This was also the day that unarmed black man George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis, triggering weeks of national and global anti-racism protests.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr said in a statement on Wednesday: "We will hold people who make false and racist 911 calls accountable."

Ms Cooper did not enter a plea when she appeared before the judge.

The charge of filing a false report is punishable by up to one year in jail.

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Christian Cooper, who is prominent in the New York bird watching community, filmed his encounter with Ms Cooper, 41, after he asked her to put her dog on a lead to keep it from scaring away birds.

Mr Cooper, 57, said he offered the dog treats, as a way to convince Ms Cooper to contain her dog.

In response, Ms Cooper called emergency services. She told them: "I'm in the Ramble," - a wooded area in Central Park - "there is a man, African American, he has a bicycle helmet and he is recording me and threatening me and my dog," as her tone rose in apparent distress.

"I am being threatened by a man in the Ramble, please send the cops immediately!" she said.

Prosecutors said that, in the second, previously unreported call, Ms Cooper repeated her accusation and said he had "tried to assault her".

"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," District Attorney Vance said.

"Fortunately, no one was injured or killed in the police response to Ms Cooper's hoax."

She admitted to the police who responded to her call that the male had made no physical contact with her.

Mr Cooper, in a statement to CNN on Wednesday, said his focus "has been and continues to be on fixing policing and addressing systemic racism like we saw in that incident".