Entertainment

Ava DuVernay Is Being Sued Over the Interrogation Scenes In 'When They See Us'

A firm that teaches controversial interrogation techniques believes the series got their method all wrong.
October 15, 2019, 4:26pm
GettyImages-1145322175
Getty Images / Taylor Hill 

Netflix and Ava DuVernay are being sued for defamation over the portrayal of interrogation techniques in their Exonerated Five series When They See Us. According to Variety, John E. Reid & Associates Inc. is claiming the series mischaracterized interrogation methods that their eponymous founder developed in the 1940s.

The suit revolves around a scene in the fourth episode of When They See Us that directly mentions the method Reid created. A district attorney's office employee says to NYPD detective Michael Sheehan, "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.” Sheehan responds, "I don’t even know what the fucking Reid Technique is, okay? I know what I was taught. I know what I was asked to do and I did it.” Per Deadline, Reid & Associates want the series removed from Netflix until the scene is changed.

Critics of the technique have said the method's aggressive, persistent approach leads to false confessions. John Reid died in 1982. Reid & Associates still teaches law enforcement agencies the controversial technique today, and they claim the series is damaging their credibility with clients. According to Variety, the lawsuit insists their interrogation method isn't coercive and points out that it hasn't been "universally rejected" the way the movie states.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Follow Taylor Hosking on Twitter and Instagram.