Ava DuVernay and Netflix are being sued for defamation by the company behind the interrogation technique featured in the limited series “When They See Us.”
John E. Reid and Associates, the company behind the Reid Technique, take issue with the way their interrogation system is described as “universally rejected” in the show and portrayed as a method to extract false confessions from suspects.
“When They See Us” is a dramatization of the case of the “Central Park Five,” five teenagers who were wrongfully convicted for the assault of a jogger in 1989, only to be exonerated more than a decade later. DuVernay’s series, which debuted on Netflix to critical acclaim and a total of 11 Emmy nominations, showed detectives using the technique to coerce a false confession.
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In the show, the method is equated to “42 hours of questioning and coercing, without food, bathroom breaks, withholding parental supervision.” Reid’s lawsuit argues that that is a mischaracterization of his interrogation technique and its guidelines.
“Vitally important to the instant case is that the Reid Technique does not involve and prohibits: striking or assaulting a subject, making any promises of leniency, denying a subject any rights, conducting excessively long interrogations, and denying a subject any physical needs,” the suit reads. “Reid also urges that extreme caution and care be taken when interviewing or interrogating juveniles or those with mental impairments.”
It goes on to state that the aforementioned exchange did not take place in real life, saying “Defendants published the statements in ‘When They See Us’ in an effort to cause a condemnation of the Reid Technique.”
Reid also notes that his technique has not been “universally rejected,”
The suit seeks unspecified damages, disgorgement of Netflix’s profits from the show, as well as an injunction to have “When They See Us” removed from the platform until the line is removed.
Netflix declined TheWrap’s request for comment.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.