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Woman seen in racially-charged video fired from job, surrenders dog

Posted at 8:48 AM, May 26, 2020

NEW YORK — A woman has been fired from her job and has returned her dog to a local shelter after a video taken from Central Park and shared widely on social media shows a heated conversation that turned into an apparent racist, verbal attack on a man.

The video shows a woman with her dog several feet away from the camera, allegedly calling the cops because an "African American man" was "threatening [her] life."

The video shows the woman with her off-leash dog in the Ramble at Central Park. Dogs must be leashed in that area of the park.

As she walked toward the man, identified on his Facebook page as Christian Cooper, she asked him to stop recording. He asked her not to approach him.

That's when the woman said she was calling police.

"I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life," the woman said.

She repeated the phrase a few times, seeming more distressed each time.

"He is recording me and threatening me and my dog," the woman said. "I'm being threatened by a man in the Ramble! Please send the cops immediately."

Cooper does not make any threats during the video.

The video ends with Cooper telling the woman "thank you," having caught the woman's racially-charged reaction on video.

Police responded to the park after the 8:10 a.m. call, officials said.

"Upon arrival, police determined two individuals had engaged in a verbal dispute," an NYPD spokesperson said. "There were no arrests or summonses issued and both parties went on their way."

City Councilman Mark Levine called what happened "disgusting."

"Filling a false police report is a crime," he tweeted. "Being racist is reprehensible. There needs to be accountability for this."

What happened in the moments before the video was taken is unclear, though the man said in the description of the video that he told the woman dogs must be leashed in that area of the park.

The woman allegedly refused, so the man pulled out treats to lure the dog, or convince the owner to leash him.

That's when the video begins, according to Cooper's description.

The video was posted Monday and was said to be taken Monday morning.

Users on social media were critical of the woman's actions.

Others noted that while she refused to leash the dog, she holds onto its collar and lifts him up by it.

The Ramble is known as an area great for bird watching. Cooper is said to be an avid birder.

Cooper posted the video to Facebook, and his sister posted the video to Twitter.

"Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NY's Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times," she said in the post, referencing the internet meme, "and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash."

Later Monday, Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue said on Twitter said the owner voluntarily surrendered custody of the dog "while this matter is being addressed." The dog was adopted through the rescue a few years ago.

The woman's employer, Franklin Templeton, also released a statement on Monday saying Twitter they'd placed her on administrative leave. On Tuesday afternoon, the company said that they had terminated the woman after an "internal review of the incident."

"We take these matters very seriously, and we do not condone racism of any kind," they said.

This story was originally published by WPIX in New York.