Amy Cooper, who was fired last May after she was videotaped calling police on a Black birdwatcher in New York City’s Central Park, is suing her former employer, claiming it did not adequately investigate the incident.
Cooper filed suit Tuesday in US District Court against financial services firm Franklin Templeton, CEO Jenny Johnson and unnamed employees.
Cooper alleges that she was terminated improperly, and that the firm did not adequately investigate Cooper’s actions and allegations her call was racially motivated – a claim she denies.
A spokesperson for Franklin Templeton told CNN on Wednesday that the company stood by its decision.
“We believe the circumstances of the situation speak for themselves and that the company responded appropriately,” spokesperson Stacey Coleman said in an emailed statement. “We will defend against these baseless claims.”
Cooper was fired one day after she called police on Christian Cooper (no relation) during an encounter involving her unleashed dog. Amy Cooper was walking her dog while Christian Cooper was bird-watching at a wooded area of Central Park called the Ramble.
They both told CNN their dispute began because her dog was not on a leash, contrary to the Ramble’s rules.
Amy Cooper called 911 and said in an increasingly frantic tone that a Black man was threatening her, according to video of the incident he filmed.
“I’m taking a picture and calling the cops,” she says in video of the incident. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”
The incident was seen as another example of White people calling the police on African Americans for mundane things.
In a statement issued a day after Cooper’s termination, Franklin Templeton said that she had been terminated “following our internal review of the incident in Central Park.”
“We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton,” the statement on Twitter continued.
Cooper alleges in Tuesday’s suit that no such internal review took place.
“The Defendants knew that they had not performed an investigation into the May 25, 2020 incident in Central Park involving Plaintiff, but nevertheless published statements that they had,” Cooper alleges in her suit.
Those statements concluded that Amy Cooper was racist, the lawsuit says, adding that the firm did not seek to interview anyone about the facts surrounding the incident.
Amy Cooper maintains in the suit that she called the police out of fear for her safety and that of her dog, and that the call was not racially motivated.
The lawsuit further claims that Franklin Templeton’s decision to invoke racism in its statement announcing Cooper’s termination was defamatory.
“The Defendants’ announcements to the effect that they had conducted an investigation, and that the investigation concluded indisputably that the Plaintiff was a racist when Defendants knew they had not conducted an investigation which concluded indisputably that the Plaintiff was a racist, was extreme and outrageous,” the suit claims.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in February dropped a misdemeanor charge against Cooper after she completed education and therapy classes on racial equity. She had been accused of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree.
Cooper is seeking lost pay and emotional damages, as well as punitive damages “to be determined at trial.”