Netflix is being sued over its depiction of police interrogations in When They See Us, the new series from Ava Duvernay. A company that trains police departments on interrogation techniques has reportedly filed a lawsuit, claiming that the show is damaging to their business. The company's case rests on one particular piece of dialogue in the series finale.
Warning! Spoilers for When They See Us are ahead!
When They See Us is a docuseries making waves on social media for the way it tackles the story of the infamous "Central Park jogger case." It tells the story of five African-American men who were wrongfully incarcerated for sexual assault in 1989. According to a report by The Hollywood Reporter, the show is now getting backlash from interrogation experts.
The new lawsuit against the show comes from John E. Reid and Associates, Inc. The company espouses the "Reid technique" of interrogation, which is mentioned specifically in the series finale. There, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Nancy Ryan and her partner criticize a New York City detective about how they drew out a confession from the so-called Central Park Five.
"You squeezed statements out of them after 42 hours of questioning and coercing, without food, bathroom breaks, withholding parental supervision," Ryan's partner says in the scene. "The Reid Technique has been universally rejected. That's truth to you."
In the lawsuit, Reid and Associates makes the case that their technique has not in fact been "universally rejected" and is still widely used. The company includes a brief history of its techniques, going back to 1974 when Reid first began teaching. It also lists its current clients, such as the FBI, the DEA, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Military and various police departments all over the country.
Moreover, Reid and Associates argues that its techniques should not have been mentioned in the documentary at all. The company believes that its teachings were not accurately represented in the show, and therefore do not warrant condemnation.
"The conduct described is not the Reid Technique," reads the lawsuit. "The program falsely represents that squeezing and coercing statements from juvenile subjects after long hours of questioning without food, bathroom breaks or parental supervision is synonymous with the Reid Technique."
The Hollywood Reporter notes that this case will hang heavily on an argument of semantics, which will likely sway it one way or the other. So far, Netflix has not commented on the lawsuit. Duvernay is also a defendant and has not commented either.
When They See Us is streaming now on Netflix.
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