The misdemeanor criminal charge against Amy Cooper was dropped Tuesday by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Cooper was charged last July after being filmed on May 25 calling 911 on a Black birdwatcher in New York’s Central Park.
“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,” Assistant DA Joan Illuzzi said in court, according to a statement.
Charges were drooped after Cooper, 41, completed an education and therapy program focused on racial equity. Cooper had been charged with a misdemeanor crime of false reporting after she called 911 twice on birdwatcher Christian Cooper, claiming he was trying to attack her.
Illuzzi said the charge was drooped after she requested it, citing Cooper’s cooperation in the classes provided by The Critical Therapy Center. A judge granted the motion. The offense carried up to one year of prison time.
Cooper’s therapist reported that after five sessions, she had “learned a lot,” Illuzzi said.
The courses were “focused on the ways in which Ms. Cooper could appreciate that racial identities shape our lives but we cannot use them to harm ourselves or others,” according to Illuzzi.
Amy Cooper called the police on Christian Copper on Memorial Day — the same day George Floyd was killed in by police in Minneapolis — after Cooper asked her to leash her dog in a section of the park that requires dogs to be leashed.
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life,” Amy Cooper said in a video recorded by Christian Cooper. While on the phone with the dispatcher, she said the birdwatcher was trying to “assault” her.
After responding officers arrived she admitted Cooper had not tried to harm her. The two are not related.
Footage of the incident went viral on social media, and Cooper was fired from her job at an asset management company.
In response to the video, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Cooper’s comments amplified hatred that has “no place in our city.”
But Christian Cooper declined to participate in the prosecution.
“I think it’s a mistake to focus on this one individual,” he wrote in an opinion piece for The Washington Post in July.
“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,” she said.
Illuzzi also admitted that harm could have been brought to the birdwatcher as a result of Cooper’s allegations.
“The simple principle is that one cannot use the police to threaten another and in this case, in a racially offensive and charged manner,” she said
After the charges were dropped, Cooper’s lawyer, Robert Barnes, suggested she may bring lawsuits related to the event.
“After a thorough & honest inquiry, the New York DA’s office dismissed all charges today,” Barnes tweeted. “Others rushed to the wrong conclusion based on inadequate investigation & they may yet face legal consequences.”