A white woman who was caught on video calling police demanding that a black bird watchman intimidate her in New York City in Central Park last year lodged a complaint with her former employer, alleging that the company had not properly considered her fear of being evicted.
Amy Cooper filed a lawsuit against investment firm Franklin Templeton on Tuesday, alleging that the company had fired her because of her race and gender and failing to properly investigate a major blood-stained incident that had made headlines nationally. The case, which was filed a year after the Central Park dispute, called for a judge.
Franklin Templeton described the allegations as baseless in a statement on Wednesday and plans to defend himself.
"We believe that the circumstances of this situation speak for themselves and that the Company has responded appropriately," the statement said.
Last May, a video was posted on Amy Cooper's social media site calling 911 to birdcatcher Christian Cooper, telling police that a "African American man" had threatened his life with his dog. NBC News does not know what happened before the start of the recording, which was shared by Christian Cooper's sister.
Christian Cooper, who is not related to Amy Cooper, told NBC News at the time that he had come and asked her to return his dog, which is Ramble's local policy in Central Park. Amy Cooper told NBC New York last year that she was overreacting and sad.
"When I think of the police, I am a very blessed person. I have seen, especially today, that I think of [the police] as a defense force, and unfortunately, this has made me realize that there are too many people in this country who do not have that luxury," he said.
But the incident, which took place on Monday, May 25, 2020, was viewed by millions on the Internet within a few hours of being posted, with many calling Amy Cooper "Central Park Karen." The next day, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, Franklin Templeton wrote on Twitter that he had terminated the employment of Amy Cooper.
"After our internal review in Central Park yesterday, we have decided to suspend the work involved, immediately," Franklin Templeton said in a statement. "We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind in Franklin Templeton."
Amy Cooper alleges that Franklin Templeton failed to conduct a formal investigation into the matter and its public statement added legitimacy to the "Karen" case.
He was also charged with misconduct for making a false report in the third grade of the incident. The case was dropped in February by the Manhattan Regional Attorney's Office after Cooper completed five "psychological and educational" sessions as part of their justice process.
A petition filed Tuesday in the state of South New York alleges that "even a baseless investigation" would show that Amy Cooper did not call Christian Cooper "because she was racist," but because "she was alone in the park and scared to death." The case goes on to describe Christian Cooper as a person. a birdcatcher involved in the ongoing conflict in Central Park between birdwatchers and dog owners. "
Franklin Templeton made no attempt to obtain a transcript of Amy Cooper's 911 calls from the police, nor did they review the minutes at previous New York City Park Board meetings showing Christian Cooper on a record that "it's getting worse between birds and dog walkers," the case is alleged.
Amy Cooper's inclusion also includes a statement given to a man named Jerome Lockett who said he had previously had contact with Christian Cooper about the release of his dog. Lockett gave a statement to NBC News on record last year.
Lockett, who described himself as a Black man, said in a statement that Christian Cooper shouted at a group of dog owners who had released their animals and tried to call Lockett's dog to him.
The case alleges that Franklin Templeton "did not wish to consult with Jerome Lockett or any other acquaintance of Mr. Cooper's past in Central Park to obtain their opinion." Such comments would indicate that Amy Cooper was "chosen as the next dog owner to attack" and that she had a reasonable fear of her safety, the case said.
The company instead discriminated against Amy Cooper on the basis of her race and gender, with the allegations filed, which resulted in financial loss and severe emotional distress.
Christian Cooper told News and the New York Times that he used to be in the Ramble and called for dogs to be hunted to preserve the local environment and wildlife. He also said he was managing his administration in an effort to get their owners to hire their dogs, "because they don't want their dog to eat cooked" from a stranger.
He also told NBC News that he chose to record Amy Cooper making a 911 call because he did not want to "disgrace himself" by giving in to what he saw as an "racial intimidation" attempt.