Woman on phone (illustrative)
Woman on phone (illustrative)iStock

A white woman called the police on an African-American man who asked her to put her dog on a leash in New York City's Central Park, NBC News reported Tuesday.

The man, Christian Cooper, told NBC New York that he was bird watching in the park when he noticed a dog running free. He approached the dog's owner to ask that she put it on a leash, as per regulations, but she refused. At that point, Cooper began filming the interaction.

His sister later uploaded the video to Twitter, where it quickly went viral, with over 29 million views.

The video shows a Caucasian woman who identifies herself as Amy Cooper (no relation to Christian Cooper) and demands he stop filming as she herself pulls out the phone and threatens to call the police, saying: "I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life."

She later put the dog on a leash, and Christian can be heard saying, "Thank you" before ending the video.

Amy Cooper later told NBC New York that she was "sorry" for her behavior.

"I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man, his family," she told NBC New York in a phone interview. "It was unacceptable and I humbly and fully apologize to everyone who’s seen that video, everyone that’s been offended … everyone who thinks of me in a lower light and I understand why they do."

Christian Cooper said he had asked her to put the dog on a leash because "if the habitat is destroyed, we won't be able to go there to see the birds, to enjoy the plantings." He added that unleashed dogs had been an issue in the area, and the run-in with Amy was not his first confrontation with dog owners.

He also said he believed her reaction was because "at some point, she decided I’m gonna play the race card, I guess."

"We live in an age of Ahmaud Arbery where black men are gunned down because of assumptions people make about black men, black people, and I’m just not going to participate in that," he added.

He later told NBC: "You know, dogs off the leash in the Ramble is not anything comparable to the civil rights movement. But one of the things I got from growing up that way is that when people trample on your rights, you don't take that lying down. You push back. And that's what I do." He also told NBC News that he was not willing to "dehumanize" himself by giving into to an attempt at "racial intimidation."

Amy later told NBC New York that she was sorry for overreacting, but that Christian had been yelling and she was concerned due to the fact that she didn't know what was in the dog treats he had with him.

Christian told NBC News that he carries dog treats so that owners will agree to place their dogs on a leash, since "they don't want their dog eating treats" from a stranger.

He told NBC that Amy has "clearly got some issues that she's going to have to address and do some reflection," he said. "And, you know, confront some underlying attitudes of her own. but said he does not wish her ill.

"Let's just get on with our lives, keep our dogs on the leash in protected areas, and nobody has to go through any of this nonsense anymore."

Later on Tuesday, Amy Cooper's employer, Frank Templeton, fired her later on Tuesday, after an earlier statement saying she would be placed on administrative leave until the incident had been properly investigated.

Frank Templeton, an investment management company, said the decision to fire Amy followed an internal review.

"Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately," Franklin Templeton said in a statement. "We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton."