NEW YORK CITY – A white woman has apologized for calling police on a black man in Central Park on Monday, after the two argued about her unleashed dog.
Amy Cooper told CNN she wanted to “publicly apologize to everyone.”
“I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way,” she said, adding that she also didn’t mean any harm to the African American community.
She was walking her dog Monday while Christian Cooper was bird watching at a wooded area of Central Park called the Ramble.
Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper are not related.
They both told CNN the dispute began because Amy Cooper’s dog was not on a leash. Dogs are supposed to be leashed at all times in the Ramble, according to the park’s website.
The dog has been surrendered to the shelter he was adopted from days earlier while the dispute is addressed, according to a Facebook post from Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc.
“The dog is now in our rescue’s care and he is safe and in good health,” the post said.
Christian Cooper recorded video of part of their encounter and posted it on Facebook, where it has since been shared more than 2,000 times.
“I’m taking a picture and calling the cops,” Amy Cooper is heard saying in the video. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”
The New York Police Department told CNN when officers responded, neither Christian Cooper nor Amy Cooper were present. No arrests or summonses were made, according to NYPD.
“I think I was just scared,” Amy Cooper said. “When you’re alone in the Ramble, you don’t know what’s happening. It’s not excusable, it’s not defensible.”
She told CNN that since the video was posted, her “entire life is being destroyed right now.”
She has been placed on administrative leave by her employer, investment company Franklin Templeton.
“We take these matters very seriously, and we do not condone racism of any kind. While we are in the process of investigating the situation, the employee involved has been put on administrative leave,” the company’s statement read.
The incident is being pointed to as another example of white people calling the police on African Americans for mundane things.
“I videotaped it because I thought it was important to document things,” Christian Cooper said. “Unfortunately we live in an era with things like Ahmaud Arbery, where black men are seen as targets. This woman thought she could exploit that to her advantage, and I wasn’t having it.”
Asked if he’d accept her apology, Christian Cooper told CNN 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.”
What led up to the video?
The incident began between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. Monday morning, both parties told CNN Monday.
Christian Cooper, who described himself as an avid bird watcher, was out birding in the Ramble. The area is a “a major birding hotspot. It’s on the Atlantic flyway,” he said.
That’s when he says he saw a dog off its leash.
“That’s important to us birders because we know that dogs won’t be off leash at all and we can go there to see the ground-dwelling birds,” Christian Cooper said. “People spend a lot of money and time planting in those areas as well. Nothing grows in a dog run for a reason.”
Amy Cooper tells CNN she was walking her unleashed dog, knowing that it was against the rules.
“He was running in an open field. This man, he was bird watching. He came out of the bush,” she said, adding that Christian Cooper was screaming at her.
Christian Cooper says the dog was “tearing through the plantings,” and he told Amy Cooper the dog needed to be on a leash. He says he was not screaming at Amy Cooper, and “was actually pretty calm.”
The two went back-and-forth about the dog leash. Christian Cooper, according to his Facebook post, then told the Amy Cooper: “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.”
“I didn’t know what that meant. When you’re alone in a wooded area, that’s absolutely terrifying right?” Amy Cooper said.
That’s when Christian Cooper says he pulled out dog treats. He told CNN he keeps dog treats with him to get dog owners to put their dogs on leashes. Christian Cooper said dog owners, in his experience, hate it when a stranger feeds their dog treats and immediately restrain their dogs afterwards.
Amy Cooper says he was throwing them at her dog, Christian Cooper says he never threw any treats.
And that’s when he started recording the incident, Christian Cooper said on Facebook.
What happened in the video?
The video begins with Amy Cooper pulling her dog by the collar and telling Christian Cooper to stop recording.
“Please don’t come close to me,” Christian Cooper says, as she approaches
“Sir, I’m asking you to stop recording me,” Amy Cooper says.
He asks her again not to come close.
That’s when Amy Cooper says she’s going to call the police.
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she says.
“Please tell them whatever you like,” Christian Cooper says.
The video shows Amy Cooper on her phone.
“There’s a man, African American, he has a bicycle helmet,” she says. “He is recording me and threatening me and my dog.”
While she’s on the phone, her dog appears to be straining and trying to get free while she tries to restrain it.
“I’m being threatened by a man in the Ramble,” she continues in an audibly distraught voice . “Please send the cops immediately!”
The video ends with Christian Cooper saying “Thank You.”