Woman in viral video of Central Park confrontation fired from job

A woman identified as Amy Cooper said she'd call police and claim the man threatened her life after he asked her to leash her dog.
/ Source: NBC News

A white woman who called police alleging that a black man was threatening her in Central Park after he asked her to put her dog on a leash was fired from her job Tuesday.

Investment management company Franklin Templeton said it fired Amy Cooper after an internal review following video of the incident being posted online. In the video, Cooper says she was going to call police and claim an "African-American man" was threatening her life.

"Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately," Franklin Templeton said in a statement. "We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton."

Video of the incident has been viewed more than 29 million times as of Tuesday afternoon after being posted to Twitter.

Christian Cooper, no relation to Amy Cooper, said he was in the park bird-watching when he noticed the dog off the leash. He told NBC News that he approached the woman walking the dog to ask that she put it back on a leash, which is the park's policy.

He said Tuesday that unleashed dogs have been a long standing issue in Central Park’s Ramble and that it was not his first confrontation after asking a dog owner to leash their dogs. As an avid birdwatcher, Christian said that he is often in the Ramble and asks for dogs to be leashed in an effort to preserve the area’s environment and wildlife.

“You know, dogs off the leash in the Ramble is not anything comparable to the civil rights movement,” he said. “But one of the things I got from growing up that way is that when people trample on your rights, you don't take that lying down, you push back. And that's what I do.”

Christian Cooper said that he began recording when she refused to leash her dog, and that’s when she said she would call the police. He told NBC News that he didn’t want to “dehumanize” himself by giving in to what he considered an attempt at “racial intimidation.”

He said he wanted to move beyond the single incident, something he describes as a woman who made a rash judgement in a stressful situation, and focus on the large discussion of racial bias in America.

“That undercurrent of sort of black people being treated as other, as not being seen as somebody’s son or somebody's father or his brother, and instead being treated as a menace under all circumstances just by being brown skin,” he said. “That undercurrent is the problem.”

Amy Cooper later told NBC New York that she was sorry for her behavior and admitted to overreacting. She claimed Christian Cooper was yelling and she felt concerned because he did not know what was in the dog treats he was carrying.

"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," she said.

Amy Cooper has not responded to NBC News' request for comment.

Christian Cooper confirmed to NBC News that he does carry dog treats with him as an effective way to get owners to leash their dog, "because they don't want their dog eating treats” from a stranger.

Christian Cooper told NBC News Tuesday that he had not seen Amy Cooper’s apology, but felt that he could accept it so long as she was sincere and “willing to put in the work.”

“You know, she's clearly got some issues that she's going to have to address and do some reflection,” he said. “And, you know, confront some underlying attitudes of her own.”

Overall, he said he wishes her no ill.

“Let's just get on with our lives, keep our dogs on the leash in protected areas, and nobody has to go through any of this nonsense anymore," he said.