"I humbly and fully apologize to everyone who’s seen that video, everyone that’s been offended," said the woman

By Benjamin VanHoose
May 26, 2020 09:02 AM

A verbal dispute over an unleashed dog has gone viral.

On Monday, a clip captured in New York City's Central Park generated attention on Twitter, showing a white woman calling the cops after another park-goer asked her to leash her dog, per park regulations.

The man who recorded the encounter, Christian Cooper, responded calmly as the woman told him, "I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life," while she dialed 911.

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," the woman 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.

The disgruntled woman was later identified as Amy Cooper, who apologized for the outburst when speaking to WCMH: "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."

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"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," said Amy.

The woman's employer, an investment management company called Franklin Templeton, said in a statement on Twitter that Amy has been put on administrative leave.

"We take these matters very seriously, and we do not condone racism of any kind," read the statement. "While we are in the process of investigating the situation, the employee involved has been put on administrative leave."

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Christian told CNN he began videotaping the encounter "because I thought it was important to document things."

"Unfortunately we live in an era with things like Ahmaud Arbery, where black men are seen as targets. This woman thought she could exploit that to her advantage, and I wasn't having it," he said.

Christian said he was in the park bird-watching in the Ramble area when he encountered Amy.

"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," Christian said. "People spend a lot of money and time planting in those areas as well. Nothing grows in a dog run for a reason."

Speaking with Good Morning America on Tuesday, Christian said during the situation — before he began recording — he tried to lure the unleashed dog with treats to prevent it from roaming. No one was arrested after police responded to the call.

Christian Cooper
Amy Cooper
| Credit: Christian Cooper

"They don't like it when you feed their dog treats," he said, explaining why he carries the treats to give to dogs off their leashes. "And she didn't like that at all. She immediately grabbed the dog, as you can see from the video, and started hauling it around by its collar."

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.