Black Man Who Asked White Woman to Leash Dog Says He Taped Encounter Due to Ahmaud Arbery's Death
Christian Cooper, the black man who filmed his encounter with a white woman who called the cops after he asked her to leash her dog is explaining why he chose to hit "record."
"I videotaped it because I thought it was important to document things," Christian explained to CNN after Monday's incident. "Unfortunately we live in an era with things like Ahmaud Arbery, where black men are seen as targets."
Arbery, 25, was shot to death on Feb. 23 after being chased by two white men while jogging unarmed in Brunswick, Georgia.
Father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael were both arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault, while William "Roddie" Bryan Jr. was also arrested and charged with felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment after recording the fatal shooting.
In the wake of Arbery's death, Christian said recording his own dispute with the white woman, later identified as Amy Cooper, was a way for him to prove what had happened so that his race would not be used against him.
"This woman thought she could exploit that to her advantage, and I wasn't having it," he added to CNN.
Prior to recording, Christian told the outlet he was in New York City's Central Park bird-watching in the Ramble area when he encountered Amy and her unleashed dog, which was against park regulations.
"That's important to us birders because we know that dogs won't be off-leash at all and we can go there to see the ground-dwelling birds," he explained. "People spend a lot of money and time planting in those areas as well. Nothing grows in a dog run for a reason."
Christian noted that the dog was "tearing through the plantings," so he calmly asked Amy to leash her pet. Amy, however, claimed to CNN that "came out of the bush" and was screaming at her.
As they argued, Christian told Amy, "Look, if you're going to do what you want, I'm going to do what I want, but you're not going to like it," according to a post on his Facebook.
In response, Amy told CNN: "I didn't know what that meant. When you're alone in a wooded area, that's absolutely terrifying, right?"
Christian explained on Facebook he pulled out dog treats, which he carries "for just for such intransigence" but before he could give the dog one, Amy grabbed her pooch and told him not to touch her pet.
Amy later claimed to CNN that Christian was throwing the treats at her dog — something Christian denied.
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In the now-viral clip — which Christian started recording right after the dog treat squabble — Amy can be heard saying that she was going to call the cops and "tell them there's an African American man threatening my life."
While she spoke to the New York City Police Department, her dog appeared to struggle as she held the pet by the collar, unable to get its footing on the ground.
"Please send the cops immediately," Amy said on the phone, standing a distance away from Christian.
The NYPD told USA Today that officers were called to the area and determined that the pair had engaged in a "verbal dispute." No arrests were made or summonses issued.
Amy later apologized for the incident when speaking to WCMH, telling the outlet: "I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man, his family."
"It was unacceptable," she continued, "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."
"When I think about the police, I’m such a blessed person. I’ve come to realize especially today that I think of [the police] as a protection agency, and unfortunately, this has caused me to realize that there are so many people in this country that don’t have that luxury," added Amy.
She also told CNN that her "entire life is being destroyed right now" in the wake of the video's circulation.
Amy's employer, an investment management company called Franklin Templeton, issued a statement on Twitter following the incident and announced that she had been put on administrative leave.
Later, on Tuesday, the company announced that Amy had been fired.
On Facebook, the shelter Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc. said Amy adopted the dog "a few years ago," and after concerns raised from the video, she "voluntarily surrendered the dog in question to our rescue while this matter is being addressed."
"Our mission remains the health and safety of our rescued dogs. The dog is now in our rescue’s care and he is safe and in good health," said the shelter.
According to the Central Park website, dogs must be leashed at all times at The Ramble, the section of the property where the dispute happened.
PEOPLE's requests for comment to both Christian and Amy were not immediately returned.