Lawyer suggests Amy Cooper may bring lawsuits after criminal charges dismissed for calling NYPD on Black bird watcher in Central Park




  • In US
  • 2021-02-17 03:32:00Z
  • By NY Daily News

NEW YORK - Criminal charges were dismissed Tuesday against Amy Cooper, the white woman caught on viral video calling 911 on a Black bird watcher in Central Park - and her lawyer suggested lawsuits are imminent.

Amy Cooper attended five therapy sessions "designed towards introspection and progress" after threatening to have Christian Cooper arrested May 25 for asking her to follow the rules and leash her dog in Central Park's Ramble.

"Ms. Cooper's therapist reported that it was a moving experience, and that Ms. Cooper learned a lot in their sessions together," Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said in court.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.'s top prosecutor concluded the intensive therapy sessions taught 41-year-old Amy Cooper how "racial identities shape our lives, but we cannot use them to harm ourselves or others."

But soon after the hearing, Amy Cooper's lawyer Robert Barnes framed what prosecutors described as a "restorative justice resolution" as an acquittal.

"After a thorough & honest inquiry, the New York DA's office dismissed all charges today," Barnes tweeted, declining to take a phone call. "Others rushed to the wrong conclusion based on inadequate investigation & they may yet face legal consequences."

Amy Cooper's name was trending on Twitter soon after news broke her case had been dismissed.

"As someone who teaches racial bias courses, I am confident in stating that it was ignorant to believe Amy Cooper needed such training," attorney and TV host Adrienne Lawrence tweeted. "Her malicious weaponization of racial bias proves that she's well-aware of it and knows how it works. She needed punishment, not coddling."

"Conflicted," city Public Advocate Jumaane Williams wrote. "I'm glad that a restorative justice approach was taken, and that there has been at least some measure of accountability. But Amy Cooper's actions are not isolated, they're part of a system of inequity & perpetuating trauma. Can't dismiss that. #ImNotOk #StillNotOk"

"Well. I am trying to believe in restorative justice but it sure is something that it is benefiting someone like Amy Cooper first," author Roxane Gay tweeted. "We will see if she learned anything."

Cellphone footage of the incident that quickly went viral showed Christian Cooper, a science writer and editor who is also an avid bird watcher, asking Amy to leash her dog. The two share the same last name but are not related.

When Amy refuses to comply, Christian begins filming their interaction, and she threatens to call 911, the video shows.

"I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life," Amy Cooper is heard frantically telling him before following through on her threat.

The responding officers found Amy Cooper before they found Christian Cooper, Illuzzi-Orbon pointed out in court Tuesday.

"They reported that some man tried to assault her and her dog, a statement that was objectively not true," she said.

Had it played out the other way around, "The police would have then been in a position where they thought that Mr. Cooper had tried to assault the defendant," the prosecutor said.

"Certainly, he would have been held - and held forcibly - if he had resisted."

In the fallout of the video going viral, Christian Cooper told the New York Daily News that Amy Cooper went "to a racist place" but said he felt conflicted about her firing, getting death threats and an intense internet pile-on.

"I think it's important to move beyond this instance and this one individual," he said. "Too much focus has been put on her when it really is about the underlying issues that have plagued this city and this country for centuries - racial issues."

Christian Cooper's refusal to cooperate with the Manhattan DA's investigation did not deter prosecutors, Illuzzi-Orbon said Tuesday, adding that they wanted to send a message to the broader community.

"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-Orbon said.

Charged with falsely reporting an incident, Amy Cooper attended therapy at Manhattan Justice Opportunity as part of her punishment. She completed a "comprehensive" program that included education on racial bias and cultural sensitivity, the prosecutor added.

Wearing a black polo neck with her hair tied back, Amy said little as she sat in front of a bare white wall at her final court hearing.

Asked if she had anything to say before Judge Anne Swern dismissed the case, Amy said, "No, your honor."

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