Netflix and Ava DuVernay Sued By Police Interrogation Firm

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Written by Ann Brown
Netflix
Netflix and filmmaker Ava DuVernay are being sued by a private interrogation firm claiming that it was defamed in DuVernay’s docudrama, “When They See Us.” Photo: Atsushi Nishijima / Netflix

Netflix, writer-director Ava DuVernay, and her distribution company Array  are being sued by a private interrogation firm claiming that it was defamed in DuVernay’s docudrama on the Central Park Five jogger rape case, “When They See Us.” It’s all over one comment made in the film.

Former Chicago police officer John E. Reid, who died in 1982, wrote a textbook on police interrogation in the late 1940s and his company continues to offer training in the Reid Technique. Critics of the technique claim it can result in false confessions.

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The Reid Technique is mentioned in the fourth episode of “When They See Us,” which was released by Netflix in May. In the episode, a “character confronts NYPD detective Michael Sheehan with allegations that he coerced a confession out of the five original defendants, who were later exonerated,” Variety reported.           

“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—ing Reid Technique is, OK? I know what I was taught. I know what I was asked to do and I did it.”

According to the lawsuit, the dialogue misrepresents the Reid Technique and that it is false to state that the technique has been “universally rejected.”

In the suit, the company claims that the series damaged its reputation, and now they seek actual and punitive damages. The company also wants an injunction barring Netflix from distributing the series in its current form, as well as a disgorgement of Netflix’s profits from the show.

Ann Brown
Image Attribution: Netflix and filmmaker Ava DuVernay are being sued by a private interrogation firm claiming that it was defamed in DuVernay’s docudrama, “When They See Us.” Photo: Atsushi Nishijima / Netflix, Netflix and filmmaker Ava DuVernay are being sued by a private interrogation firm claiming that it was defamed in DuVernay’s docudrama, “When They See Us.” Photo: Atsushi Nishijima / Netflix