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Netflix Is Getting Sued for This Controversial Scene in When They See Us

On April 19, 1989, a 28-year-old woman was jogging in Central Park when she was assaulted. She was found unresponsive on the pavement and was in a coma for almost two weeks.

The police tracked down the suspects behind the assault, who were surprisingly minors between the ages of 14 and 16, and put them behind bars. Justice served, right? Except that the kids did not actually commit the crime.

This was the plot of Ava DuVernay’s masterpiece When They See Us, a mini-series based on the real-life mystery crime that was dubbed as the Central Park Jogger Case.

Ava DuVernay directed When They See Us

Rave Reviews

The highly acclaimed drama premiered on Netflix on May 31 and had since been awarded with 11 Emmy nominations. Most, if not all, found the mini-series moving and an eye-opener of what really happened in 1989 to the five minors, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, Antron McCray, and Raymond Santana, who were wrongly accused of  crime they did not commit and were eventually put behind bars.

However, there were some people who weren’t amused by the TV show’s depiction of the crime case and filed a lawsuit against the director and even Netflix itself.

The case wrongly accused five teens.

No, it didn’t come from any of the people involved in the case, from the five wrongly incarcerated, the police, nor investigators. An interesting complaint was filed in Illinois versus Netflix and Ava by John E. Reid and Associates Inc., a party that was never mentioned in the show. This company said that there’s one particular scene that it claims is damaging to its business.

The Reid Technique

John Reid used to be a police officer and is now a consultant who created an interrogation technique, which he named after himself, that he teaches for more than four decades. As per the documents, some of his clients include the US Department of State, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. It also said there have been over 500,000 individuals who learned about their teaching. So, how does the series affect him?

The plaintiff claimed that the Reid technique was wrongly depicted in the show

John is suing because of a scene in the last episode where a detective from New York City and Nancy Ryan, a Manhattan Assistant District Attorney, were talking about how authorities managed to get the Central Park Five to confess.

The lawyer’s partner said that the police coerced and questioned the kids for 42 hours, deprived them of food and allowed no bathroom breaks, just to get a statement and went on to say that the Reid strategy is universally rejected.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff strongly objects to the notion that the technique was universally rejected and didn’t like how the method was portrayed in the show, saying the Reid strategy was not about depriving juvenile suspects of food and prohibiting bathroom breaks. It reiterated that the show shouldn’t have used the name in the series at all.


The defendants didn’t issue a statement on the matter. The plaintiff demanded, apart from damages, that When They See Us be removed from the platform until it edits out the part that is deemed defamatory. However, as per the 41-page complaint, Netflix allegedly refused to retract and edit.

Two years ago, the consulting group Wicklander-Zulawski & Associated revealed it won’t be using the Reid technique anymore. Its CEO said at the time that confrontation wasn’t the best way to get the truth out.

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