Netflix’s distressing miniseries is now at the center of a lawsuit. When They See Us chronicled the story of the Central Park Five, following the arrests of five New York youths who were sentenced to prison for horrific crimes they didn’t commit. In our social justice-driven culture, the story sent shockwaves worldwide, and the real-life tale was once again brought into the spotlight, except now, 30 years later, people were angered by the treatment of the teenagers.
The dramatized account of the 1989 Central Park Jogger Case was watched on the streaming service by millions and earned the series two Emmy Awards. However, John E. Reid and Associates, the company that created the Reid Technique of interrogation mentioned in the miniseries, is suing Ava and Netflix for defamation.
According to Variety, the Reid Technique was crafted back in the 1940s and is the most popular method of interrogation in the world. After being mentioned in When They See Us, the company claims that its technique is now being criticized as unethical and a system of coercion.
The dialogue in the film states: “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.” The next character replies, “I don’t even know what the f*cking Reid Technique is, OK? I know what I was taught. I know what I was asked to do and I did it.”
“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,” John E. Reid and Associates state in the lawsuit. “Defendants published the statements in ‘When They See Us’ in an effort to cause a condemnation of the Reid Technique.” They’re asking for damages, for Netflix’s profits to be paid to the company, and for the court to bar the series from being distributed.