Charges Dropped Against Amy Cooper After She Completes Restorative Justice Program
Prosecutors and a judge agreed to dismiss the charge of filing a false report on Tuesday.
February 16, 2021 at 9:38 pm
Amy Cooper, a white woman seen last year threatening police violence against a Black man after she lied to police, will have the charge filed against her for the incident dismissed, according to The New York Times.
During a court hearing on Tuesday, prosecutors asked a judge to drop the charge of filing a false report because Cooper allegedly completed five classes centered on "psychoeducation and therapy." The judge agreed and dismissed the charge.
Amy Cooper went viral last May when Christian Cooper, a birdwatcher walking through Central Park, took a video of her threatening to call the police on him because he asked her to put her dog on a leash.
"I'm taking a picture and calling the cops. I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life," she said in the video.
She later called the police twice to tell them that a Black man had assaulted her, which the video showed was not true. Amy told 911 that Christian “tried to assault her in the Ramble area of the park.”
“There’s a man, an African American, he’s recording and threatening me and my dog,” she told the police.
The video was seen more than 100 million times and gained prominence as an example of how white people are able to use the threat of police violence against Black people even when they have done nothing wrong.
She was later charged with filing a false report. New York state lawmakers proposed a law that would make filing a false police report on the basis of racial bias a hate crime.
“We’ve seen 911 calls which are race-based, false calls. A false 911 call based on race should be classified as a hate crime in the state of New York," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement last June.
But in court on Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi said she had spoken with Amy's therapist who spoke positively about their interactions. She added that Christian did not want the charges filed, something that he has been very public about in multiple media interviews.
"Ms. Cooper’s therapist reported that it was a moving experience and that Ms. Cooper learned a lot in their sessions together. Having completed the restorative justice program to our satisfaction, we now move to dismiss. 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," Illuzzi told the court, according to NBC News.
Illuzzi added that Amy learned to "appreciate that racial identities shape our lives" and that "we cannot use them to harm ourselves or others," according to her conversations with the therapist.
"The simple principle is that one cannot use the police to threaten another and in this case, in a racially offensive and charged manner. 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," Illuzzi said.
Amy apologized after the incident, but her lawyer struck a defiant tone on Twitter, threatening people who criticized her.
"After a thorough & honest inquiry, the New York DA's office dismissed all charges today against #AmyCooper. We thank them for their integrity & concur w/ the outcome. Others rushed to the wrong conclusion based on inadequate investigation & they may yet face legal consequences," lawyer Robert Barnes wrote.
After a thorough & honest inquiry, the New York DA's office dismissed all charges today against #AmyCooper. We thank them for their integrity & concur w/ the outcome. Others rushed to the wrong conclusion based on inadequate investigation & they may yet face legal consequences.
— Robert Barnes (@barnes_law) February 16, 2021
Amy was fired from her job at the investment firm Franklin Templeton, as Blavity previously reported.
After the incident, Christian highlighted the trend of Black people being killed based on lies or assumptions.
"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.
He later created a graphic novel of the incident and spoke about it with The New York Times, referencing the killing of George Floyd, which happened the same day.
“What happened to me is minor compared to the fatal consequences for George Floyd later that same day, but it all comes from the same place of racial bias. I am not trying to equate these things. What I am trying to say is: ‘See the pattern,’” he said.