Ken Burns: NYC Should Settle With Central Park Five Before Anniversary

TCA 2014: “Central Park Five” director tells TheWrap he believes settlement in $250 million case is imminent

“Central Park Five” director Ken Burns believes New York City is close to a settlement with the five men wrongly convicted in the rape of the Central Park jogger — and called on new mayor Bill De Blasio to settle before the crime’s upcoming 25th anniversary.

Burns told TheWrap that De Blasio told his fellow filmmakers that “of course” he would settle the lawsuit, which the exonerated men filed in 2003. The five were convicted as teenagers and wrongly imprisoned for years before DNA proved that convicted rapist and murderer Matias Reyes had committed the crimes.

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Burns said De Blasio’s hiring of a lawyer who helped settle the police brutality case brought by Abner Louima suggested he was ready to settle with the five. The men are seeking $250 million — but Burns acknowledged they wouldn’t receive anything near that amount.

“The [Michael] Bloomberg administration and particularly his corporation counsel refused to settle and were going to take it to trial, and delayed shamefully,” Burns told TheWrap at the Television Critics Association winter press tour Monday.

“And De Blasio the candidate on three occasions said that he would settle, and as mayor-elect said on two occasions that he would settle and appointed a new corporation counsel who was central to the settlement of the Abner Louima case. So we think it’s just a question of when,” Burns added.

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Burns suggested that the administration settle the case in time for the 25th anniversary of the crime, which shocked New Yorkers and fueled racial tension. News reports referred to the jogger being attacked by a “wolf pack.”

“The 25th anniversary of the whole shit storm — which is April 19 … would be a good time to settle,” Burns said. “So we’re hoping that will happen.”

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Burns said his daughter, Sarah Burns, and their fellow filmmaker David McMahon asked De Blasio at an event last year if he planned to settle.

“He just instantaneously, almost dismissively said, ‘Of course I’ll settle,’” Burns said.