White woman Cooper
A white woman has apologised for calling police on a black man bird-watching in Central Park on Monday morning after the two argued about her unleashed dog. Image Credit: NYT

New York: The incident appears to have begun as one of those banal and brusque dust-ups between two New Yorkers. A black man, an avid birder, said he had asked a white woman to leash her dog in Central Park, as the rules require. She refused.

Then the encounter, which was recorded on video, took an ugly turn.

As the man, Christian Cooper, filmed on his phone, the woman called the police.

“I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she says to him while dialing.

The video, posted to Twitter on Memorial Day, has been viewed more than 30 million times.

Within 24 hours, the woman, identified as Amy Cooper (no relation to Christian Cooper), had given up her dog, publicly apologized and been fired from her job.

The incident took place around 8:10 a.m. Monday in the Ramble, a section of Central Park where dogs are required to be on leashes.

The video captures Amy Cooper first asking Christian Cooper to stop filming her, then saying she will call the police and claim that she is being threatened by “an African American.”

“Please tell them whatever you like,” Christian Cooper said.

She proceeded to call.

“I’m in the Ramble, there is a man, African American, he has a bicycle helmet and he is recording me and threatening me and my dog,” she said to the 911 operator as she gripped her pet’s collar tightly.

She added: “I am being threatened by a man in the Ramble, please send the cops immediately!”

On Tuesday night, Amy Cooper publicly apologized in a statement.

“When Chris began offering treats to my dog and confronted me in an area where there was no one else nearby and said, ‘You’re not going to like what I’m going to do next,’ I assumed we were being threatened when all he had intended to do was record our encounter on his phone,” Cooper said. “He had every right to request that I leash my dog in an area where it was required.

“I am well aware of the pain that misassumptions and insensitive statements about race cause and would never have imagined that I would be involved in the type of incident that occurred.”

Amy Cooper had been a head of insurance portfolio management at Franklin Templeton. On Tuesday afternoon, Franklin Templeton announced that she had been fired.