A woman reportedly made a call to the New York Police Department (NYPD) accusing a black man of threatening her and her dog during an argument Monday morning that started when the man asked the woman to leash her dog in Central Park.
The latter part of the exchange was caught on camera by Christian Cooper, 57, who was in the Ramble in Central Park around 8:00 a.m. where dogs are required to be leashed. The video starts with him telling Amy Cooper, 41, who he coincidentally shares a surname with, to back away from him as she quickly approached while telling him to stop recording her. At that point, her dog was still not on a leash, despite Amy holding one. Then, she threatened to call the police, to which Christian responded by saying, “Please call the cops.”
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life,” Amy said while dialing.
While speaking with NYPD dispatch, Amy specified Christian’s race twice and claimed that he had threatened her and her dog’s safety. For the duration of the phone call, Amy’s dog appeared to be struggling and choking against her grip on its collar. He gagged several times and writhed on the ground as she held on, loudly begging for dispatch to send the cops “immediately.”
The video was posted to Twitter by Christian’s sister, Melody Cooper, where it has amassed over 27 million views since being uploaded around 1:00 pm Monday afternoon. She claimed that her brother is an avid bird-watcher at the park, who was polite when asking Amy to put her dog on a leash.
In a Facebook post, Christian claimed that Amy refused to leash her dog when asked because “the dog runs are closed.” After Amy refused to take her dog to another part of Central Park that allows unleashed dogs, Christian said “look, 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.” Then, he said he tried to offer a dog treat from the ones that he carried “just for such intransigence,” but she yanked her pet away. After that, Christian started recording.
Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash. pic.twitter.com/3YnzuATsDm
— Melody Cooper (@melodyMcooper) May 25, 2020
“On Monday, May 25, 2020, at approximately 0810 hours, police were called to the Central Park Ramble for a report of an assault. Upon arrival, police determined two individuals had engaged in a verbal dispute. There were no arrests or summonses issued,” said Sergeant Mary Frances O’Donnell, Deputy Commissioner of Public Information (DCPI) spokeswoman on behalf of the NYPD, when The Daily Caller reached out for comments on the incident. When the police arrived on the scene, Christian had already left.
“Imagine the police responded at some point, but once she put her dog on the leash, I went back to birding (which I was wrapping up and heading out anyway),” Christian wrote in another post, according to a report by Head.com. “We’ll see if there’s any blowback the next time I’m in the park, though I doubt it. If there is, I’ve got the video … Also hopefully the police presence in the Ramble will increase (there is zero right now), and that will put further pressure on the irresponsible dog owners.”
At around 11:00 p.m. on Monday night, Amy’s employer, Franklin Templeton Investments, posted a statement on Twitter saying that she had been placed on administrative leave in light of the incident.
Amy’s dog, who appeared to be experiencing discomfort in the video, has been voluntarily given back to the rescue shelter from where he was adopted “a few years ago,” according to a Facebook post from Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc.
On Tuesday morning, CNN reported that she wanted to “publicly apologize to everyone” for her behavior, which has been widely criticized as racist.
“I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way,” she said in regards to her comments, which included his race.
“I think I was just scared,” Amy explained. She claimed that Christian was yelling at her, which he denied. “When you’re alone in the Ramble, you don’t know what’s happening. It’s not excusable, it’s not defensible.”
When CNN asked if he’d accept her apology, Christian said he would “if it’s genuine and if she plans on keeping her dog on a leash in the Ramble going forward, then we have no issues with each other.”