Ava DuVernay And Netflix Sued Over Interrogations Scene In ‘When They See Us’

The Netflix series, When They See Us received multiple award nominations but unfortunately director Ava DuVernay and Netflix have found themselves on the wrong side of a lawsuit.

What We Know:

  • The docuseries depicted the journey of five wrongfully convicted African American men, was written and produced by Ava DuVernay, and streamed on Netflix.
  • A technique deemed “The Reid Technique” was referenced in the final episode of the series between Manhattan assistant D.A. Nancy Ryan and a New York City detective who was involved in eliciting the confessions of the Central Park Five.

  • “You squeezed statements out of them after 42 hours of questioning and coercing, without food, bathroom breaks, withholding parental supervision,” the character states. “The Reid Technique has been universally rejected.”
  • Sheehan replies: “I don’t even know what the f—— Reid Technique is, OK? I know what I was taught. I know what I was asked to do and I did it.”
  • John E. Reid & Associates developed the Reid Technique in the late 1940s. John died in 1982 but his company has continued to offer training materials and courses to law enforcement since then. The company/creator of the technique does not appreciate the way it was “defamed” in the series and goes into detail in a 41-page complaint aimed at DuVernay and Netflix.
  • Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, a firm led by two former John E. Reid & Associates employees, adopted the interrogation style. But in 2017, the firm announced that it had abandoned the method, citing the risk of false confessions arising from the misuse of the approach.

Neither Netflix or DuVernay have released comments in regards to the lawsuit.