Misdemeanor charges have been dropped against Amy Cooper, the so-called “Central Park Karen” that called police on a Black man who was simply asking her to curb her dog in a bird watching sanctuary.
The New York Post reports Cooper had faced up to a year in prison on a charge of third-degree falsely reporting an incident. Prosecutors requested that the case be dismissed if she would agree to undergo five therapy sessions “designed for introspection and progress,” said Assistant Manhattan D.A. Joan Illuzzi-Orbon during a virtual hearing.
To begin that process, Cooper was sent to a therapy facility that “provided psychoeducation and therapy services which focused on the ways in which Ms. Cooper could appreciate that racial identities shape our lives but we cannot use them to harm ourselves or others,” Illuzzi-Orbon said to Manhattan Criminal Court Justice Anne Swern. “Psychoeducation about racial equality is woven into each therapy session to prompt understanding and reflection.”
Neither Cooper or her attorney responded. Her lawyer said he agreed with the prosecutor. After that, Swern dismissed the case and sealed it, according to The Post. “Ms. Cooper’s therapist reported that it was a moving experiencing and Ms. Cooper learned a lot in their sessions together,” said the prosecutor.
Cooper encountered Christian Cooper (no relation), a science writer and graphic novel artist who is a member of New York City Audubon last May in New York’s Central Park when she was walking her dog in an area designated for bird watching. When he asked her to put a leash on her dog, a verbal exchange began between them, which led to her calling police and telling them that “there’s an African-American man threatening my life.”
The incident was captured on video by the man and soon went viral. Police did not arrest him as was her intention, but charged her with filing a false report. Subsequently, Cooper lost her job and was the focus of intense public scrutiny.
Christian Cooper declined to cooperate with the prosecution, saying that the stigma attached to her by the outrage was punishment enough.
“Considering that Amy Cooper has already lost her job and her reputation, it’s hard to see what is to be gained by a criminal charge, aside from the upholding of principle,” he wrote in a Washington Post opinion article. “If her current setbacks aren’t deterrent enough to others seeking to weaponize race, it’s unlikely the threat of legal action would change that.”