Amy Marie Cooper was an executive at Franklin Templeton Investments, a multi-billion-dollar asset management firm based in San Mateo, California, United States. She lost her job and her dog after an encounter in Central Park, New York, USA with Christian Cooper, a Health Science Communications senior biomedical editor and a former Marvel Comics editor.
On May 25, 2020, Amy and Christian’s paths crossed when she was walking her dog, a cocker spaniel named Henry, at a wooded area of Central Park called The Ramble while he was bird-watching there. He reminded her that dogs must be leashed at all times in that area, which is popular with birdwatchers like him.
Amy refused to comply. Christian told her he might do something with the dog that she would not like.
“I’m taking a picture and calling the cops,” Amy is heard saying in the video taken by Christian. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”
Amy pulled Henry by the collar. While she was on the phone calling 911, she tried to restrain the dog, which was struggling to get free.
“There’s a man, African American,” Amy said on the phone. “He has a bicycle helmet. He is recording me and threatening me and my dog.”
The New York Police Department confirmed to CNN that Amy did make a call that day. When officers responded neither she nor Christian was present.
“I am well aware of the pain that misassumptions and insensitive statements about race cause and would never have imagined that I would be involved in the type of incident that occurred with Chris,” Amy stated in her public apology. “I hope that a few mortifying seconds in a lifetime of forty years will not define me in his eyes and that he will accept my sincere apology.”
In March 2018, Amy adopted Henry from Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue Inc. in Flushing, New York after her previous cocker spaniel named Ollie died. She voluntarily surrendered the dog to the shelter after the encounter with Christian.
New York City dog walkers Lindsey Cork and Kyle Stover, who both used to walk Henry, condemned Amy’s actions. It was personal for the former because she has been in a relationship with an African-American man named Charles Grant for three years.
The encounter earned Amy the name the Central Park Karen. In the U.S., entitled persons are called a Karen.
Because of the incident, Franklin Templeton Investments fired Amy on May 26, 2020. Here are 13 more facts about the Central Park Karen:
- She was originally from Canada. From 1998 to 2003, she attended the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, where she earned her degree in actuarial science.
- In 2009, she earned her master’s degree in business administration in analytical finance from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
- She lives in the Upper West Side in New York City, New York.
- She was a vice president and head of investment solutions at Franklin Templeton Investments from 2015 to May 26, 2020.
- She is a fixed income portfolio manager.
- She was an expert in insurance accounting and regulatory issues, asset liability management and strategic asset allocation.
- She claimed that from 2008 to 2012, she was in a relationship with Wall Street trader Martin Priest but she broke up with him when she found out he was still residing with his wife Tianna Priest, according to the New York Post.
- She claimed that in October 2013, Martin reached out to her to tell her that his marriage was irretrievably broken down and he was a victim of abuse from his wife and another girlfriend Carrie Wharton, who was then pregnant with his child.
- She claimed that between February 12, 2014 to July 30, 2014, she sent Martin a total of $65,000, which he told her he needed to protect himself and his children from Tianna and pay Wharton to abort her unborn child.”
- In 2015, she sued Martin because she wanted him to pay the $65,000 amount that she had lent him with interest but the case was dismissed when neither of them showed up for court conferences in January 2018 and March 2018.
- Before working at Franklin Templeton, she worked at AIG, Citi, Lehman Brothers and Willis Towers Watson. At Lehman Brothers, she was workmates with Martin, who denied all of her allegations against him and told the New York Daily News that they never had a romantic relationship.
- She was 41 years old when she encountered Christian on May 25, 2020. Because of the incident, she was charged with filing a false police report. The case was dropped on February 16, 2021. Prosecutors were satisfied with her participation in a a diversionary counseling program.
- On May 25, 2021, she filed a lawsuit against Franklin Templeton in New York federal court. She alleged that the company would not have fired her if she were a different race and gender an the company’s actions caused her to suffer severe emotional distress and was suicidal thoughts. She is seeking damages for loss of wages, bonus, unvested funds and emotional distress damages.