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Former colleague of Amy Cooper says she tried to 'ruin his life with bogus lawsuit'

A former co-worker of Amy Cooper - the woman filmed calling 911 to report an African-American bird watcher for 'threatening her life' when he asked her to leash her dog in Central Park - has said he wasn't surprised by the former banking exec's erratic conduct, claiming he's 'seen that type of false hysteria before'.

Martin Priest, who first met Cooper while working at investment banking firm Lehman Brothers in 2003, told DailyMail.com how the now 41-year-old allegedly attempted to destroy his life with a series of 'baseless' allegations in a 2015 lawsuit.

Priest said he had been friends with Cooper for a number of years before the suit but says he began to distance himself from her sometime in 2012 when she confessed to having romantic feelings for him that weren't reciprocated.

In the months that followed, Priest says he was routinely 'harassed' and 'stalked' by Cooper. He claims she would often leave him threatening texts and voicemails, in which she menaced that she would hurt him, his family members and even herself if he continued to ignore her.

The purported onslaught culminated in Priest contacting police in Ridgewood, New Jersey, in February 2013 to report her for harassment.

'She became increasingly abusive and unstable,' Priest told DailyMail.com. 'I tried to get away from her as she became more outrageous and threatening with her demands.'

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Martin Priest, who first met Amy Cooper (above) , told DailyMail.com how the now 41-year-old allegedly attempted to destroy his life with a series of 'baseless' allegations in a 2015 lawsuit

Amy Marie Cooper became a household name earlier this week when a now infamous viral video captured her hysterically calling the police on African American bird watcher, Christian Cooper, claiming he was 'threatening her life' after he asked her leash her dog in an area of Central Park known as The Ramble 

Priest said he first met Cooper while working at investment banking firm Lehman Brothers in 2003

Priest said his attempts to oust Cooper from his life were in vain. Just over a year later, on June 8, 2014, he would once again contact police, but this time in Long Island City, dialing 911 to accuse Cooper of attempting to break into his house.

'I caught her in the act,' Priest claimed. 'She lied to my doorman pretending to be my sister and said she needed to get inside.

'I was at home at the time - ignoring her calls - and she knocked on the door, then opened it and tried to walk inside. I got up, slammed the door shut and called the police.'

Priest said that by the time officers arrived, Cooper had fled the scene. 'She texted a lot of crazy stuff afterwards,' Priest recalled.

The NYPD has not yet returned a DailyMail.com request for information on the purported incident. But the department confirmed to the NY Post that Priest had filed for harassment against Cooper on June 8, 2014.

A spokesperson told the outlet she came to his home, repeatedly rang the doorbell and asked to enter the location.

A number of text messages were also observed, police said, but no arrests were made and no charges were filed.

But the ordeal wouldn't end there. Priest said he later received a call from Cooper, who, angered that he had called the cops on her, apparently told him she 'wasn't going to stop until she'd put him in the gutter'.

Priest said he had been friends with Cooper for a number of years before the suit but began to distance himself from her sometime in 2012 when she confessed to having romantic feelings for him that weren't reciprocated

The following year, Cooper filed a lawsuit against Priest – which has since been dismissed – claiming that she had been involved in a romantic relationship with the Wall Street trader from 2008 to 2012, while he was still with his first wife.

In the suit, she claimed she broke up with him when she learned of his marriage, but reconvened with him in October 2013 when that relationship ended. 

Cooper accused Priest of stealing $65,000 from her between February and July 2014. She also claims Priest later threatened her life, warning her she should 'keep the f*** out of [his] life' or she 'would get hurt.' 

Priest vehemently denies he was ever involved romantically with Cooper and fiercely denies the allegations she made in the lawsuit, calling them 'fabricated' and 'heinous'.

'Those allegations were deeply hurtful to my family. I never had a romantic relationship with her,' Priest told DailyMail.com. 'It was all fabricated in retaliation of our falling out. It was an explicit attempt to damage me and my reputation. She told me on the phone she wasn't going to stop until she put me in the gutter.'

The case was later dismissed when both Cooper and Priest failed to show up for court conferences in January and March 2018, DailyMail.com has confirmed.

'She put all that damaging and false information out there and then just disappeared - derailing my career, hurting my family and reputation,' Priest said.

'It's taken me years to rebuild my life after that,' he continued. 'I was unfairly maligned based upon the allegations that she made - the baseless allegations.

'And so from that point, you know, obviously people would refuse to employ me … because of the voracity of the allegations.'

In 2015, Cooper filed a lawsuit against Priest – which has since been dismissed – claiming that she had been involved in a romantic relationship with the Wall Street trader from 2008 to 2012, while he was still with his first wife

Amy Marie Cooper became a household name earlier this week when a now infamous viral video captured her hysterically calling the police on African American bird watcher, Christian Cooper, claiming he was 'threatening her life' after he asked her leash her dog in an area of Central Park known as The Ramble.

When Priest was made aware of the footage said he was 'horrified' by Cooper's reaction, but said he wasn't surprised.

'I was just, like, horrified she could do that to someone,' he told DailyMail.com, 'but I wasn't shocked. I have seen that type of false hysteria before.

'I just feel that Mr. Cooper is fortunate to have had the foresight to record her reaction, because I'm certain a worse result would have happened to him otherwise.

'I'm so sorry [for Mr. Cooper],' Priest added. 'You know I empathize a great deal and I'm grateful that he had the foresight to record her. She's just a predator, what she did was predatory.'

Priest also said he wasn't surprised that Cooper was being accused of being racist, as he claims she previously said used a racial slur when he told her he was voting for Barack Obama years earlier.

'The reaction was cultivated, it didn't just happen in one snap moment,' Priest said. 'That's not a spontaneous event. There was a clearly a pre-conditioned, premeditated strategy.'

Amy Cooper has not yet responded to a DailyMail.com request for comment on any of the allegations made by Priest. Messages left at her listed address went unanswered. 

In the viral footage - commonly referred to online as Central Park Karen - Amy Cooper told birdwatcher Christian Cooper (above) she was going to call the cops, telling them 'an African American man is threatening her life' after he calmly asked her to leash her dog

Amy Cooper: Full Public Apology 

I want to apologize to Chris Cooper for my actions when I encountered him in Central Park yesterday. 

I reacted emotionally and made false assumptions about his intentions when, in fact, I was the one who was acting inappropriately by not having my dog on a leash. 

When Chris began offering treats to my dog and confronted me in an area where there was no one else nearby and said, 'You're not going to like what I'm going to do next,' I assumed we were being threatened when all he had intended to do was record our encounter on his phone. He had every right to request that I leash my dog in an area where it was required. 

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. 

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.

(Dated May 26) 

In the hours that followed the videos emergence, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio branded Cooper as 'racist...pure and simple' as outrage over the incident – commonly referred to as Central Park Karen – rippled out nationwide.

Cooper was terminated from her $170k-per-year role at as head of insurance investment solutions at Franklin Templeton shortly afterwards. A petition to ban her from Central Park for life also emerged, as did new legislation that would make falsely reporting an incident as a hate crime illegal, should it pass.

In a statement, Amy Cooper offered her sincere apologies to Christian Cooper, saying she 'reacted emotionally and made false assumptions about his intentions when, in fact, I was the one who was acting inappropriately by not having my dog on a leash.

'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. '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 a later statement to CNN, Cooper further elaborated, saying: 'I'm not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way,' she told the network. 'I think I was just scared. When you're alone in the Ramble, you don't know what's happening. It's not excusable, it's not defensible.'

She said that since the video has sparked widespread outrage online, her 'entire life is being destroyed right now'.

Cooper was terminated from her $170k-per-year role at as head of insurance investment solutions at Franklin Templeton shortly afterwards

In a statement, Amy Cooper offered her sincere apologies to Christian Cooper, saying she 'reacted emotionally and made false assumptions about his intentions when, in fact, I was the one who was acting inappropriately by not having my dog on a leash'

Priest admonished Cooper for the statement, accusing her of 'race-baiting' and 'false victimhood'.

'There are women and African Americans out there – real victims that are threatened every day, and she has no technically endangered both by 'crying wolf'.

'It's tragic because there are so many people with this sort of antisocial behaviour that are allowed to function and work, and it takes something this gripping to demonstrate that there are these terribly troubled people wandering around in our society.' 

On Thursday, Christian Cooper told the panel of The View that he has accepted Amy Cooper's apology but urged viewers to look at the bigger picture of racism that the encounter displayed.

'I do accept her apology,' Christian said. 'I think it's a first step. I think she's gotta do some reflection on what happened because up until the moment when she made that statement.

'It was just a conflict between a birder and a dog walker, and then she took it to a very dark place. I think she's gotta sort of examine why and how that happened.'

Christian, a board member of the NYC Audubon Society, also doubled down on his previous urges asking the public to stop making death threats against Cooper.

'If you think that what she did was wrong, that she was trying to bring death by cop down on my head, then there is absolutely no way you can justify then turning around and putting a death threat on her head,' he said.

Cooper explained that he's also 'uncomfortable' with judging Cooper solely on a 'few seconds…over very poor judgement.'

'[There's] no excusing that it was a racist act because it was a racist act,' he told the show. 'But [does] that define her entire life? Only she can tell us if that defines her entire life by what she does going forward.'

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