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Woman who called police on black man bird watching appears in court

Bird Watcher, Christian Cooper

A white woman who called police on a black man bird watching in New York’s Central Park made a second call accusing him of attempted assault.

Amy Cooper appeared in court on Wednesday charged with falsely reporting an incident.

A viral video showed Ms. Cooper threatening Christian Cooper, no relation, with the police when he asked her to put her dog on a lead.

This happened on 25th May, Memorial Day, the same day George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis, triggering weeks of national and global anti-racism protests.

Ms. Cooper lost her job and dog after the incident, and publicly apologised.

Manhattan District Attorney CY Vance Jr. said in a statement on Wednesday, “the State will hold people who make false and racist 911 calls accountable.”

Ms. Cooper did not enter a plea when she appeared before the judge.

The charge of filing a false report is punishable by up to 1 year in jail.

Christian Cooper, who is prominent in the New York Bird Watching Community, filmed his encounter with Ms. Cooper, after he asked her to put her dog on a lead to keep it from scaring away birds.

Mr. Cooper said he offered the dog treats, as a way to convince Ms. Cooper to contain her dog.

In response, Ms. Cooper called emergency services.

She told them: there is a man, African American, recording and threatening her and asked for the police to be sent immediately.

Prosecutors said that, in the second, previously unreported call, Ms. Cooper repeated her accusation and said he had “tried to assault her”.

District Attorney Vance said she engaged in racist criminal conduct when she falsely accused a black man of trying to assault her in a previously unreported second call with a 911 dispatcher.

He said fortunately, no one was injured or killed in the police response to Ms. Cooper’s hoax.

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