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Ava DuVernay sued for defamation in Netflix miniseries ‘When They See Us’

Ava DuVernay (Photo credit: A.R. Shaw for Steed Media)

Ava DuVernay’s Emmy Award-winning miniseries When They See Us is still making headlines, but this time it’s not for its creative presentation. Netflix and DuVernay are being sued for defamation, according to TMZ.

In a lawsuit obtained by TMZ, attorneys for John Reid and Associates Inc., the Chicago company named for a former police officer and the creator of an interrogation method known as the Reid Technique, claims it was defamed by the way its technique was characterized during the Netflix series and said to have been used by investigators during their questioning of the young suspects formerly known as the Central Park Five.

During episode 4 of the four-part miniseries, the Reid Technique was mentioned during a scene involving a conversation between one of the staff members on the prosecution’s team and a detective about the severity of police interrogation. In the scene, the prosecution staff member says to the detective, “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.”

According to TMZ, Reid and Associates argues in its lawsuit that the company’s technique does not deny minors of their rights, supervision of parents, or physical harm — all of which were mentioned in the miniseries to describe his technique. The company also is defending against claims that its technique has been universally rejected.

In July, after the release of When They See Us, TMZ reports that the company had demanded a retraction but Netflix refused. Along with its lawsuit, the publication says Reid and Associates is seeking a hefty portion of the miniseries’ profits as well as damages.

Neither Netflix nor Duvernay have released any public statements regarding the lawsuit.

The original version of this story was updated on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019.