A white woman who called the police on a black bird watcher over a dispute about her dog in New York's Central Park is to be prosecuted, US officials have said.

Demonstrators stand near Trump Tower during a Black Lives Matter protest against racial inequality in New York City, New York, US, July 5, 2020.
Demonstrators stand near Trump Tower during a Black Lives Matter protest against racial inequality in New York City, New York, US, July 5, 2020. (Reuters)

New York prosecutors have charged a white woman who in May accused a black man of threatening her life in New York's Central Park with filing a false police report, Manhattan's district attorney has said.

The district attorney Cy Vance said Amy Cooper, 41, faces an Oct. 14 arraignment over the incident, which was captured on a video that went viral and touched off a national conversation about "white privilege."

"We are strongly committed to holding perpetrators of this conduct accountable," Vance said in a statement on Monday.

Filing a false report is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

Park encounter gone viral

Cooper had been walking her dog on May 25 in an area of Central Park known as the Ramble when she encountered Christian Cooper, an avid bird-watcher not related to her.

Christian Cooper filmed his namesake as she approached him after he requested she leash her dog in a wooded area of the park popular with bird watchers.

"I'm going to tell them there's an African-American man threatening my life," she tells Cooper, after dialing 911 and while struggling to control her dog.

"There is an African-American man, I'm in Central Park. He's recording me and threatening me and threatening my dog," she then tells the operator.

Social media outrage

The exchange prompted outrage on social media, with users calling the woman a "Karen," a term popular online to describe an entitled white woman.

She was accused of putting Cooper's life in danger by trying to manipulate a police system that is regularly accused of brutality against members of the black community.

The video has more than 44.7 million views on Twitter.

The incident occurred a few hours before the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, where a police officer pinned his neck to the ground with a knee, touched off nationwide protests over racial injustice.

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Public apology

After video of the Central Park incident went viral, Cooper was fired from her job at the Franklin Templeton asset manager, and she publicly apologized.

In a statement on Monday, Cooper's lawyer Robert Barnes said she would be found not guilty, and faulted a "rush to judgment" by some about the case.

"She lost her job, her home, and her public life. Now some demand her freedom?" Barnes said. "How many lives are we going to destroy over misunderstood 60-second videos on social media?"

Source: TRTWorld and agencies