According to a newly filed lawsuit, not from the company behind the controversial police interrogation technique highlighted in DuVernay’s miniseries on the Central Park jogger case.
Variety reports that John E. Reid and Associates filed a federal lawsuit on Monday (Oct. 14) against Netflix and director Ava DuVernay, claiming that it was defamed in the powerful miniseries When They See Us after the series showcased how the company’s controversial Reid Technique was used to obtain a false confession from the teens during the case in 1989. The technique is mentioned in the fourth episode of the limited series after a character confronts NYPD detective Michael Sheehan with allegations that he coerced a confession out of the five original defendants, who were later exonerated.
“You squeezed statements out of them after 42 hours of questioning and coercing, without food, bathroom breaks, withholding parental supervision,” the character states. “The Reid Technique has been universally rejected. That’s truth to you?”
The lawsuit claims that the aforementioned dialogue mischaracterizes the Reid Technique by alluding that coercion is a part of the process, and by asserting that the technique has been “universally rejected.” The suit also goes on to allege that the series caused damage to the company’s reputation and is seeking punitive damages while requesting that Netflix be barred from distributing the series in its current form.
“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,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants published the statements in ‘When They See Us’ in an effort to cause a condemnation of the Reid Technique.”
In addition to requesting edits, John E. Reid and Associates are also requesting that money earned from the miniseries in its current form be paid back to the company citing that the series’ critique of the method was an unethical business practice.
Although Netflix nor DuVarney have yet to respond to the lawsuit, it is widely known that the technique does have its fair share of critics, including Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, a firm run by two former John E. Reid and Associates employees who announced in 2017 that they would no longer teach the method due to the “risk of false confessions arising from the misuse of the approach.”
Check out the documents from the case here.