Woman speaks out after viral Central Park confrontation with man sparks outrage


A woman has apologized after a video showing her calling police to say a black man was threatening her in New York's Central Park when he asked her to put her dog on a leash went viral.

Christian Cooper told NBC New York that he was bird watching in the park around 8 a.m. on Monday when he asked Amy Cooper to put her dog on a leash. The two were in The Ramble, a spot popular with birders and where dogs are required to be leashed.

Christian Cooper said she refused, and that was when he started recording the encounter with his phone.

"At some point, she decided, 'I'm gonna play the race card,' I guess," he told NBC New York.

The video starts with Christian Cooper asking Amy Cooper not to come any closer. She responds by asking him to stop recording her and, moments later, says she is calling the police.

"Please call the cops,'' he says.

"I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life,'' she says.

"Please tell them whatever you like," he replies.

On the phone, Amy Cooper says, "There is an African American man in Central Park. He is recording me and threatened myself and my dog.

"I'm being threatened by a man," she continues. "Please send a cop! Immediately!"

Christian Cooper said he recorded the incident because he did not want to be intimidated, and that he stopped recording when Amy Cooper finally put her dog on a leash. The video went viral on Twitter after Christian's sister posted it.

"We live in an age of Ahmaud Arbery where black men are gunned down because of assumptions people make about black men, black people, and I'm just not going to participate in that," he said, referring to a case in Georgia where a black man jogging through his neighborhood was pursued by two white men and shot to death. The men said they believed he was a burglar, and one opened fire in self-defense.

Christian Cooper left before police arrived, and no complaint or arrests were made.

Amy Cooper told NBC New York she overreacted and regrets calling the police.

"I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man, his family," she said in a phone call. "It was unacceptable and I humbly and fully apologize to everyone who's seen that video, everyone that's been offended…everyone who thinks of me in a lower light and I understand why they do.

"When I think about the police, I'm such a blessed person. I've come to realize especially today that I think of [the police] as a protection agency, and unfortunately, this has caused me to realize that there are so many people in this country that don't have that luxury."

Her employer, investment management company Franklin Templeton, tweeted on Monday night that she has been put on administrative leave.

"We take these matters very seriously, and we do not condone racism of any kind," the company said in a statement. "While we are in the process of investigating the situation, the employee involved has been put on administrative leave."

The incident follows other viral on-camera moments with racial undertones in recent years. One woman was dubbed "Barbecue Becky" on Twitter in 2018 for calling the police on a group of black men having a barbecue in a park. Another was nicknamed "Permit Patty" for appearing to call police on an 8-year-old black girl selling bottles of water.

Originally published