“Today our office initiated a prosecution of Amy Cooper for falsely reporting an incident in the third degree,” Manhattan DA Cy Vance said in a statement.
Vance would not give more details other than Cooper, 40, was issued a desk appearance ticket for an Oct. 14 arraignment on the misdemeanor charge.
Christian Cooper, 57, a Black comic book writer and biomedical editor for Health Science Communications and a member of the New York City Audubon Society board of directors, said he was watching birds in Central Park on Memorial Day and discovered a dog was off its leash and tearing through vegetation.
Christian Cooper told the dog’s owner, Amy Cooper, that it needed a leash and tried to lure the dog away from the plants with some treats.
That’s when the situation escalated, according to Christian Cooper, who began filming with his cell phone.
Amy Cooper became enraged and started to threaten the bird watcher.
“I’m taking a picture and calling the cops,” she says in the footage. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”
Amy Cooper followed up with her threat, telling the police on the phone that “he is recording me and threatening myself and my dog,” according to the video. Officers arrived but didn’t make any arrest.
The video, which was posted on Twitter by Christian Cooper’s sister Melody, went viral and Amy Cooper was fired from her job at Franklin Templeton investment firm the next day. She also gave the dog back to the animal shelter, but two weeks later it was returned to her “after an evaluation from a veterinarian and a coordinated effort with law enforcement,” ABC New York station WABC reported.
Mayor Bill de Blasio weighed in shortly after the incident became public, calling Amy Cooper’s actions “racism, plain and simple.”
Robert Barnes, an attorney who says he represents Amy Cooper, told ABC News in a statement that she will be found not guilty in the case.
“The rush to judgment by some in the public, in this cancel culture epidemic, will be proven as wrong as cancel culture itself. She lost her job, her home, and her public life,” Barnes told ABC News. “Now some demand she lose her freedom? How many lives are we going to destroy over misunderstood 60-second videos on social media?”
The day after the incident, Amy Cooper issued an apology to Chris Cooper.
“I want to apologize to Chris Cooper for my actions when I encountered him in Central Park yesterday. I reacted emotionally and made false assumptions about his intentions when, in fact, I was the one who was acting inappropriately by not having my dog on a leash,” she said in the statement.
“I think it’s a first step. I think she’s got to do some reflection on what happened because up until the moment when she made that statement,” he told “The View” on May 28. “It was just a conflict between a birder and a dog walker, and then she took it to a very dark place. I think she’s got to sort of examine why and how that happened.”
Vance urged other New Yorkers to call his office if they’ve experienced a situation similar to Christian Cooper.
“We are strongly committed to holding perpetrators of this conduct accountable,” he said in a statement.