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.
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. pic.twitter.com/3YnzuATsDm
— Melody Cooper (@melodyMcooper) May 25, 2020
“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.”
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.
— Franklin Templeton (@FTI_US) May 26, 2020
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.)