NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/CBS News) — A video has gone viral and a woman has been fired from her job at a mutual fund firm after a confrontation in Central Park in which a black man asked her to follow the rules and keep her dog on a leash — to which she phoned police and reported he was threatening her life.

The sister of the man who filmed the confrontation, Melody Cooper, posted her brother, Chris, began filming when the encounter in The Ramble began to escalate.

“Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off-leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash,” posted Cooper.

On the video, the man records Amy Cooper, no relation, and asks her not to approach him. She threatens to call police and say a black man is threatening her, which she does as he continues to film her.

“I’m sorry, I’m in The Ramble, and there’s a man — an African-American with a bicycle helmet — he is recording me, and threatening me and my dog.” The video doesn’t show the man threatening the woman.

The woman is also seen on the video restraining her dog, a Cocker Spaniel, by its collar rather than leashing it.

“I said to the owner, ma’am dogs in the ramble have to be on the leash at all times and you’re standing right next to the sign that says that. We went back and forth a little bit. She said my dog needs the exercise and I said I get that, but all you have to do is take it over to the drive outside the Ramble to the other part of the park and you can let it run off the leash until 9 a.m. all you want. She said, thats too dangerous we went back and forth and finally it just evolved eventually to the point where you see the video and she decided to inject the racial element into the conflict,” Chris Cooper told CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis.

“I wasn’t gonna participate in my own dehumanization and feed that, so I just kept recording,” Chris Cooper added.

Once Amy Cooper leashed the dog, Chris Cooper said he stopped recording and left.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said the woman waited for police.

“Reiterated what she said essentially on that video and the man had left. There is no police report on file. She did not wish to formalize a police report of any kind,” Shea said.

Manhattan District Attorney candidate Eliza Orlins has been a public defender for more than a decade.

“I know that the DA’s office uses these hysterical 911 calls as categorical evidence of guilty … Without a recording of this interaction, it would be very difficult to refute her accusations,” she said.

On Tuesday, Amy Cooper told CNN she wanted to “publicly apologize to everyone.”

“I’m not a racist,” she said. “I did not mean to harm that man in any way.”

New York City officials were not quick to forgive.

“The video out of Central Park is racism, plain and simple,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter. “She called the police because he was a black man. Even though she was the one breaking the rules, she decided he was the criminal and we know why. This kind of hatred has no place in our city.”

“This apology is totally inadequate,” posted Mark Levine, whose district covers the Upper West Side, Washington Heights, and West Harlem near the section of Central Park where the encounter took place. “She was attempting to weaponize the race of Mr. Cooper.”

The Central Park Civic Association also responded, issuing a statement asking he mayor to impose a lifetime Central Park ban on the woman “for her deliberate, racial misleading of law enforcement and violating behavioral guidelines set so that all can enjoy our city’s most famous park.”

After the video went across social media, her employer, Franklin Templeton, fired Amy Cooper. In a statement posted online, the company said, “Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately. We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton.”

In addition to losing her job, the woman reportedly also “voluntarily surrendered” her dog to the rescue she adopted it from.

In a Facebook post, Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc. wrote that “the owner has voluntarily surrendered the dog in question to our rescue while this matter is being addressed.”

Chris Cooper told CBS2 the incident reflects a growing problem.

“It’s not just about her. She tapped into something that’s pervasive in our society that we all really need to address,” Chris Cooper said. “We need to start treating each other as ‘us’ rather than as ‘other.'”

Since being posted, Melody Cooper’s initial share of her brother’s video of the incident has been watched online more than 31 million times.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CBS Interactive contributed to this report.)

Comments (13)
  1. Ann Marie Prince says:

    Amy Cooper should also be charged for her actions in mistreating that poor dog she is holding the dog by his collar in a chocking manner, at one point she has him struggling holding him in the air she should of just put his leach on him it upsets me every time I see it she should be charged for her accusation of the gentleman and the mistreatment on the dog

    1. Jack Pine says:

      Yes, that was truly a horrible case of abuse to that dog, holding it by the collar. In fact, anybody who holds their dog by the collar should probably have their dog taken away, because a collar should NEVER, ever, ever be used to restrain your animal. Instead, you should speak nicely to it, and ask it permission to put on a leash.

  2. Rita Kelley says:

    I’m grateful Mr. Cooper was able to record this incident, otherwise I fear for his life. The woman’s actions could have cost him his life, had “New York’s Finest” arrived to shoot 1st and ask questions later. This video contains so many issues: white privilege, slander, grave injustice, animal abuse, and above all, the kind of racism that undermines the fabric of our society. Here was a woman who thought nothing of trying to get another human being arrested on false charges. For Mr. Cooper, his life would have been severely impacted by her lies.

  3. One very positive result to come out of this? People of ALL ethnic stripes are beginning to step up, to articulate loudly and firmly: they will not stand for this kind of treatment of a fellow citizen. That is a good thing..

  4. Rita Bailey says:

    DID YOU NOTICE ‘”THE ACTRESS’ FAKE NERVOUS VOICE’ as she is on her cellular telephone?

    Her body language says I’m not really afraid. If was really afraid, she would have been walking or running away.

    On behalf of all (mainly) White people, I apologize top Mr. Christian Cooper who lives up to his name.

  5. Lee says:

    That poor dog was choking which can be clearly seen in video. That is why he was fighting

  6. AS says:

    Why are they all named Cooper?

    1. Deb Laser says:

      @Kitten and @Lee – your takeaway is the dog and not the (hu)man? And no, she could not be that stupid as a VP and head of investments at Franklin Templeton, and she’s smart enough to delete all of her social media including LinkedIn.

  7. Kitten says:

    This woman should be charged with animal abuse. She was dragging that poor dog around by its neck .dog was panting and trying to get way

  8. Deborah L Bacey says:

    She is mentally unstable. She could not be this stupid. But then again….Thanks goodness this was on video.

  9. nomoretraitors says:

    I’m so glad we have public officials who can read people’s minds and know what their intentions are (sarc)

    Having said that, she needs to be charged with making a false statement and should be sued by the guy for slander

  10. CYRUS says:

    I often complain of the increased number of people unleashing their dogs in McCarren park where I live. They let them go wherever, are not cleaned up after, and occassionally they chase after other visitors. And they often get testy whenever I tell them to please leash up their dogs.

  11. Nirmala Bhattacharya says:

    Very unfair, that people of color have to watch our backs doing everyday things. Shame on that woman. Will be happy if she loses her job and she realizes how dangerous her attitude is.

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