A federal lawsuit was filed against Ava DuVernay and Netflix today. John E. Reid and Associates, the plaintiff, is suing for alleged defamation due to the mini-series When They See Us.
When They See Us is a four-episode long series based on the Central Park Five case. In 1989, five African-American teenage boys were wrongfully convicted of attacking a female jogger in Central Park. All five of them plead not guilty but were convicted for numerous charges and sentenced to jail. It wasn’t until 2002 that the actual attacker came forward and confessed to the crimes the five, now men, had been convicted of.
The plaintiff claims that the last episode of the series references the Reid Technique negatively. The Reid Technique is an interrogation method that the company claims, “is the most widely used interrogation method by police agencies worldwide.”
During a heated exchange in the episode, a character argues with an NYPD Detective about the use of coercion on the boys. “You squeezed statements out of them after 42 hours of questioning and coercing, without food, bathroom breaks, withholding parental supervision. The Reid Technique has been universally rejected.”
In the complaint, it states that Netflix allegedly ignored a demand for edits and a retraction of that specific piece of dialogue. The suit claims that “Defendants intended to incite an audience reaction against Reid for what occurred in the Central Park Jogger Case and for the coercive interrogation tactics that continue to be used today. Defendants published the statements in When They See Us in an effort to cause a condemnation of the Reid Technique.”
John E. Reid and Associates alleges that reputation was tarnished, and they are now seeking actual and punitive damages. The lawsuit states the company is looking to stop Netflix from distributing the series and, “Actual damages in an amount to be determined at trial, but exceeding $75,000.”
Readers can currently watch When They See Us on Netflix.