Ava DuVernay, Netflix Sued Over Police Interrogation Technique Mentioned In ‘When They See Us’

John E. Reid and Associates has claimed that the Emmy-winning series incorrectly portrays their method of questioning criminal suspects.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt
Digital Original
Prosecutor Linda Fairstein and the Central Park Five

Director Ava DuVernay and Netflix are facing legal action thanks to their mention of an interrogation technique seen in the series, “When They See Us,” with the company that created the technique claiming that DuVernay and the streaming giant misrepresented it.

DuVernay's Netflix series tells the story of the Central Park Five, a group of teens of color who were famously wrongfully charged and convicted for the rape of a woman who was found near death in New York’s Central Park in 1989. Although the four-part series has garnered critical praise and an Emmy Award, John E. Reid and Associates aren’t so happy with it, and are calling for the network and the director to be held responsible for what they deem defamation, Variety reports.

John E. Reid and Associates filed a lawsuit Monday claiming that the series included an incorrect portrayal of the Reid technique in the fourth episode; they also claimed that the series suggested that the technique is likely to lead to false confessions via coercion, according to the outlet.

Ava Duvernay G

John E. Reid, a former police officer and polygraph expert, created the Reid technique — a method of interrogation that involves intense interviewing — in the 1950s, according to The New Yorker. He later set up his own company, John E. Reid and Associates, which continues to offer interrogation training on the technique to this day, despite the practice receiving over the years.

The company claimed in their suit that mention of the technique in the Netflix series incorrectly suggested that it had been “universally rejected,” according to Variety.

“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,” the suit reportedly reads. “Defendants published the statements in ‘When They See Us’ in an effort to cause a condemnation of the Reid Technique.”

The scene in question involves a detective with the New York Police Department being questioned regarding his treatment of the suspects.

“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,” one character says.

The detective then responds, “I don’t even know what the f—king Reid Technique is, OK? I know what I was taught. I know what I was asked to do and I did it.”

The company has claimed that they’ve been forced to address the Netflix series in the various training programs that they offer, Deadline reports.

“At nearly all of its seminars and programs, Reid now fields questions and negative feedback regarding When They See Us and its criticism of the Reid Technique,” the complaint reads. “Accordingly, Reid has now dedicated a regular section of its training seminars and programs to addressing When They See Us and the ‘Central Park Jogger’ case.”

The suit alleges that mention of the Reid technique in the Netflix series has damaged their reputation and, as such, they are requesting an injunction that would prevent Netflix from continuing to air the show as it currently is, and a disgorgement of profits Netflix collected from the series, according to Variety’s report. They are reportedly also seeking actual as well as punitive damages.

DuVernay has not commented publicly on the suit. An attorney representing the award-winning director, as well as a Netflix spokesperson, both declined to comment when contacted by Fox News.

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