United States

Charge dropped against woman who made false claim to cops about Black man in Central Park

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A New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer wearing a protective face mask watches as people gather in the Sheep Meadow in Central Park during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., May 15, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

NEW YORK, Feb 16 (Reuters) - A New York judge on Tuesday dismissed a misdemeanor charge against a white New York City woman who became an internet video sensation last spring when she falsely claimed a Black man threatened her in Manhattan's Central Park, prosecutors said.

Amy Cooper was arraigned in New York in October on a charge of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. Prosecutors said she also falsely accused the man of trying to assault her.

At a hearing on Tuesday, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon asked the judge to drop the charge after reporting that Cooper had completed five therapy sessions that focused on not using racial identities "to harm ourselves or others," according to a statement released by her office.

Illuzzi-Orbon also said Cooper had no prior arrests and that the man she falsely accused declined to cooperate with prosecutors.

Cooper's attorney, Robert Barnes, said on Twitter that the case was dismissed after "a thorough & honest inquiry."

The now famous incident erupted when Cooper took her dog to New York's Central Park on May 25, and a birdwatcher, Christian Cooper (no relation) asked her to follow park rules and put the dog on a leash.

"I'm going to call the cops," Amy Cooper tells Christian Cooper on a video. "I'm going to tell them there's an African-American man threatening my life."

After Tuesday's hearing, Christian Cooper told CNN that the significance of the incident pales in comparison to Washington, D.C., with its majority non-white population, not having the full representation of statehood.

"That gross racial injustice could be fixed by Congress now, today, and that's what people should be focused on -- not last year's events in Central Park," he said.

Video of the incident, which was viewed more than 30 million times by the next day, drew outrage, coming on the heels of several other widely seen incidents of white people calling police on Black people without cause.

Reporting by Peter Szekely Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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