The NYPD detective who made the first arrests in the Central Park Five Case is claiming that Netflix’s popular drama series When They See Us is filled with lies and inaccuracies. Eric Reynolds, who arrested Raymond Santana and Kevin Richardson as a plainclothes officer, described the four-part miniseries as a ‘malicious recreation’ of true events that should be condemned as a wrong portrayal.
When They See Us has been hailed as a compelling work that confronts racism in the criminal justice system. The mini-series chronicles the allegedly wrongful incarceration of four black boys and one Latinx boy. In 1989, four juveniles were convicted and imprisoned for the violent, horrible rape of jogger Trisha Meili in Central Park. Reynolds arrested two of the boys that night, who he contends were not innocent bystanders but a collective of youths who went “wilding” that night of April 19, 1989.
Reynolds took issue with the portrayal of the boys looking badly beaten after arrest. According to the DailyMail, Reynolds said: “Please, someone, show me the pictures of them. Show me the injuries, show me the black eyes, show me the swollen faces, because every single one of them that came out of that precinct had none of that.”
According to Reynolds, there was a wealth of forensic evidence that pointed to the boys’ involvement in the crime — hair and blood that allegedly appeared to be consistent with the jogger’s, as well as semen in the boys underwear. Mattias Reyes later confessed to the rape of Meili, which was allegedly supported by DNA evidence, and the boys were fully exonerated and paid a settlement by New York City.
Despite Reyes’ confession and the alleged DNA evidence, Reynolds maintained that there was forensic evidence that supported the boys’ involvement with Meili. Reynold argues, “The medical evidence alone proves that it was not one person that attacked her. There was plenty of physical evidence.” He added, “That notion that there was none, no physical evidence, that tied them to the crime is an absolute lie.”
Prosecutor Linda Fairstein also criticized the Netflix series, saying that it was “so full of distortions and falsehoods as to be an outright fabrication.” This led to angry tweets, to which director Ava DuVernay responded, “Expected and typical. Onward…”
As of mid-June, When They See Us has been viewed by more than 23 million people on Netflix.