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What Christian Cooper’s Lack of Cooperation with DA’s Office May Mean for Criminal Case Against Amy Cooper

The woman who went viral for calling police on a Black man in Central Park months ago was subjected to international scorn and immediately lost her job. Her former employer suggested when announcing the firing that she had committed a racist act. On top of that, Amy Cooper now faces a criminal charge in Manhattan for falsely reporting an incident, even though the man she allegedly victimized has not and apparently won’t be cooperating with prosecutors.

Christian Cooper told the New York Times in a statement on Tuesday that he believes Amy Cooper has already paid a “steep price.” Mr. Cooper said that if Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance wants to pursue charges against Ms. Cooper, Vance can to do so without his cooperation.

“On the one hand, she’s already paid a steep price. That’s not enough of a deterrent to others? Bringing her more misery just seems like piling on,” he said. “So if the DA feels the need to pursue charges, he should pursue charges. But he can do that without me.”

Criminal defense attorney and former New York City homicide prosecutor Julie Rendelman told Law&Crime that the DA “may not actually need Mr. Cooper’s testimony in order to effectively prosecute Amy Cooper.”

“After all, they have the 911 call that contains the alleged false reporting, and they have video that was taken contemporaneously with the actual incident that led to the charges,” Rendelman said. “The prosecutor can subpoena Mr. Cooper for a potential trial if they believe they need Mr. Cooper to authenticate the video and give background to the incident, but they would probably be able to work around that.”

“In the end,” Rendelman said, “the district attorney could take into account Mr. Cooper’s opinions about this prosecution in formulating an appropriate resolution to this matter.”

Vance announced the prosecution against Cooper on Monday.

“Today, our Office initiated a prosecution of Amy Cooper for Falsely Reporting an Incident in the Third Degree,” he said in a statement. “Our office will provide the public with additional information as the case proceeds. At this time I would like to encourage anyone who has been the target of false reporting to contact our Office. We are strongly committed to holding perpetrators of this conduct accountable.”

Class A misdemeanors like this one are punishable by up to one year in jail or three years probation–and/or a $1,000 fine.

Law&Crime previously noted that Cooper could be charged with this crime. But many of those arguing against the charges have said that the Amy Cooper case shouldn’t be used as a vehicle to promote the carceral state and overcriminalization. Others have wondered what took DA Vance so long to file charges.

Cooper’s defense attorney Robert Barnes (who has penned columns for Law&Crime in the past) said that his client will be acquitted of the charge.

“When all the facts are known, Amy Cooper will be found not guilty of the single misdemeanor charge she faces,” Barnes told CNN. “Based on a misunderstood 60 seconds of video, she lost her job, her home and her reputation.”

Barnes also told the cable news network that “criminalized, cancel culture” and prosecutions of “alleged ‘wrong think'” cannot be the new normal.

“Public shaming, lost employment, denied benefits & now prison time for a mis-perceived, momentary alleged ‘wrong think’? For words said in a sixty second interaction where even the alleged victim calls this reaction way excessive? This criminalized, cancel culture is cancerous & precarious,” he said. “That is why acquitting Amy Cooper is important.”

[Image via YouTube screengrab]

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Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.