A woman has been sacked after a viral video caught her calling the police about a black man who asked her to put her dog on a lead.
Private investment company Franklin Templeton, announced on Twitter on Tuesday that it “does not tolerate racism of any kind”.
“Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately,” the tweet said.
Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately. We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton.
— Franklin Templeton (@FTI_US) May 26, 2020
The woman, who has been identified as Amy Cooper, was initially suspended after her argument with Christian Cooper (no relation) was shared by his sister online, accumulating 30 million views.
Mr Cooper, a former Marvel Comics editor, said he was bird watching in a wooded area of New York’s Central Park on Monday morning when the argument began.
He filmed part of the altercation in which the woman tells him to stop recording.
She warns him: “I am going to tell them an African-American man is threatening my life.”
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Ms Cooper then tells police: “There is a man, African-American, he has a bicycle helmet – he is recording me and threatening me and my dog.”
Appearing to become hysterical, she pleads: “Please send the cops immediately!”
Writing alongside the original clip on Facebook, Mr Cooper said the row began when he pointed out a sign that states dogs must be on a lead in the area – which is known as the Ramble.
He said she claimed it was too dangerous, before he tried to give the dog a “treat” and she warned him off as the altercation escalated and he began filming.
Ms Cooper told US media she is not racist and was just scared when Mr Cooper “came out of the bush”.
She told NBC News: “I sincerely and humbly apologise to everyone, especially to that man, his family.
“It was unacceptable and I humbly and fully apologise to everyone who’s seen that video, everyone that’s been offended, everyone who thinks of me in a lower light – and I understand why they do.”
Mr Cooper told The Washington Post he did not want Ms Cooper to face any repercussions, but said: “I don’t think there’s an African-American person in America who hasn’t experienced something like this at some point.
“I don’t shy away from confronting the scofflaw when I see it. Otherwise, the park would be unusable – not just to us birders but to anybody who enjoys the beauty.”
Reacting to the video, Twitter users said the consequences for Mr Cooper could have been very serious if police had turned up and misunderstood the situation.
“This is terrifying. She abused 911 and intentionally made herself sound like she was in distress. Anything could have happened to your brother,” said one post with more than 56,000 likes.
The dog in the video is in good health and has been “voluntarily surrendered” while the matter is being looked into, said Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue.
The group said on Facebook that the dog had been adopted from them “a few years ago”.