Cooper, 40, was charged in October with falsely reporting to police that Christian Cooper, who is not related to her, tried to assault her during a confrontation about her dog being off the leash in an area of the park where the leash was required. Cellphone video taken by Christian Cooper of that 911 call showed Amy Cooper emphasizing the man’s race, prompting widespread criticism that she was making a racist attempt to exaggerate the threat.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office offered her the chance to complete a program in exchange for the case’s dismissal. Details of the offer were not made public until Tuesday.
“Having completed five sessions, Ms. Cooper’s therapist reported that it was a moving experience and that Ms. Cooper learned a lot in their sessions together,” Illuzzi said. Illuzzi also noted that Christian Cooper declined to participate in the prosecution.
On May 25 in the Ramble section of Central Park, a wooded area frequented by birdwatchers, Christian Cooper insisted that Amy Cooper put her dog on a leash — a request she refused. The exchange escalated, and Christian Cooper tried to lure the woman’s dog with a treat.
Illuzzi said that on the basis of Amy Cooper’s report, “the police could have easily found [Christian Cooper] before they spoke further to [Amy Cooper]” and that “certainly he would have been held and held forcibly if he resisted.”
By the time police officers assigned to the park arrived that spring day, Christian Cooper had left, and Amy Cooper admitted that he hadn’t tried to harm her, Illuzzi said.
She was fired from her job at the Franklin Templeton investment firm as a result of the viral encounter, and she has apologized for her conduct.
Illuzzi said that although Christian Cooper declined to cooperate with the prosecution, “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.”
“The simple principle is that one cannot use the police to threaten another and, in this case, in a racially offensive and charged manner,” Illuzzi added, explaining that the dismissal deal Amy Cooper received was “designed not just to punish but to educate and promote community healing.”
Amy Cooper did not speak during Tuesday’s court hearing when offered the chance by New York Criminal Court Judge Anne Swern.
In a statement, Amy Cooper’s attorney Robert Barnes said the district attorney’s dismissal of the charges was “the appropriate outcome of this matter.”
“Many others rushed to the wrong conclusion based on inadequate investigation, and for some, there may be legal consequences coming,” the lawyer added, without elaboration.
Barnes’s law firm said that he and Amy Cooper will hold a news conference in the near future. It is not clear what they plan to discuss at the event.
Christian Cooper, a Harvard graduate who has worked as a Marvel comics editor and more recently for a health-care communications company, is an avid Central Park birdwatcher who has seen himself as a protector of Manhattan’s most recognized green space.
His confrontation with Amy Cooper became a national story after his sister Melody shared video of it on Twitter, incensing scores of people who interpreted the encounter as the panicked 911 caller using Christian Cooper’s race as a weapon against him.
The encounter in Central Park occurred the same day George Floyd died in police custody, with police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck as Floyd repeatedly said that he couldn’t breathe. That disturbing event also was caught on video that sparked months of protests and unrest around the nation and abroad.