‘Making a Murderer’ Filmmakers Sued for Defamation by Former Wisconsin Police Sergeant

Andrew Colburn argues docuseries contends that he planted evidence to convict Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey for the murder of Teresa Halbach

Making a Murderer Steven Avery mug shot

Andrew Colburn, a former police sergeant in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, has sued the filmmakers of “Making a Murderer” as well as Netflix, for defamation over his portrayal in the docuseries.

“Making a Murderer” examines the 2007 convictions of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey for the murder of Teresa Halbach, casting doubts on Avery’s guilt, which hinged on evidence collected at the family’s auto salvage yard in Manitowoc County. Notably, it pursues a theory that law enforcement may have held a grudge and was looking to settle a score with Avery after he was released from prison earlier after a sexual assault charge was disproven by DNA testing.

Colburn’s suit, filed Monday in  Manitowoc County circuit court, says that Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, the two filmmakers behind the series, wrongfully accused Colburn of framing Avery and Dassey for Halbach’s murder. Representatives for Ricciardi and Demos did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment; Netflix declined comment.

“Neither plaintiff nor any other law enforcement officer planted evidence or in any other way attempted to frame Avery or Dassey for Halbach’s murder,” the lawsuit states. “Despite overwhelming evidence proving Avery and Dassey’s guilt and the utter absence of evidence supporting defendant’s accusations of police misconduct, defendants falsely led viewers to the inescapable conclusion that plaintiff and others planted evidence to frame Avery for Halbach’s murder.”

The lawsuit further accuses the filmmakers of having “omitted, distorted, and falsified material and significant facts in an effort to portray plaintiff as a corrupt police officer who planted evidence to frame an innocent man.” This was done, the suit continues, “with actual malice and in order to make the film more profitable and more successful in the eyes of their peers, sacrificing and defaming the plaintiff’s character and reputation in the process.”

“Mr. Colburn has been subject to worldwide ridicule, contempt, and disdain since the release of ‘Making a Murderer’ almost exactly three years ago today,” Michael Griesbach, the attorney for Colburn, said in a statement provided to TheWrap. “His reputation and that of Manitowoc County, itself, has been severely and unjustly defamed. He is filing this lawsuit to set the record straight and to restore his good name. ‘Making a Murderer’ may have been a major professional achievement and a financial bonanza for its creators, producers, and distributors, but it has added another layer of tragedy to what was already a painful episode for our community and has callously poured salt into the wounds of a murder victim’s family that will never fully heal. My client hopes in some small measure to alleviate some of their pain.”

Griesbach continued: “Neither Mr. Colborn nor I intend to offer further public comment about his lawsuit. The dispute will be resolved where it should be, not in the court of public opinion where a related case has been much discussed, but in a court of law. We are asking you to respect our privacy.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.