The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 1:00 am

Case tossed for woman in racist run-in

Associated Press

NEW YORK – Amy Cooper, the white woman arrested last year for calling 911 on a Black birdwatcher in New York's Central Park, had her criminal case thrown out Tuesday after completing a diversionary counseling program that prosecutors said was meant to educate her on the harm of her actions.

Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said Manhattan prosecutors were satisfied with Cooper's participation in the program – described as an alternative, restorative justice solution – and were not seeking to pursue the case any further. Such outcomes are standard for first-time offenders facing misdemeanor charges, Illuzzi said.

Judge Anne Swern, presiding over the matter by video because of the coronavirus pandemic, agreed to dismiss the charge of filing a false police report and said she would seal Cooper's case file, in accordance with state law.

The confrontation, captured on video the same day Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, drew worldwide attention and was seen by many as a stark example of everyday racism.

Christian Cooper, the birdwatcher who recorded the video and was the subject of Amy Cooper's 911 call, said he was caught off guard and learned of the dismissal only when The AP called him shortly thereafter. Illuzzi said he declined to participate in the matter.

There is no relation between Christian Cooper and Amy Cooper.

Christian Cooper later issued a statement highlighting what he said was another racial injustice, saying he was “far more outraged” by the U.S. Congress denying statehood to the mostly non-white District of Columbia “than by anything Amy Cooper did.”

Amy Cooper's lawyer, Robert Barnes, praised prosecutors for a “thorough and honest inquiry” into the allegations and said he agreed with the decision to dismiss the case.

“We thank them for their integrity, and agree with the outcome,” Barnes said.

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