When They See Us John E. Reid and Associates Reid Technique Ava DuVernay Netflix Defamation technique PEACE
Photo by Stephanie Moreno/Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications for Peabody Awards/University of Georgia

Ava DuVernay, Netflix Sued For Defamation Over Interrogation Scene From ‘When They See Us’

Director Ava DuVernay and Netflix have been sued for defamation by the creators of a controversial police interrogation technique. The Reid Technique was highlighted in DuVernay’s critically-acclaimed miniseries “When They See Us.”

“When They See Us” is a drama based on the real-life story of five teenage boys of color who were railroaded into pleading guilty to a near-fatal rape of a young white woman who went jogging in Central Park in 1989.

Related Story: Opinion: ‘When They See Us’ Highlights Why Exoneration Doesn’t Equal Vindication For Blacks and Latinos

According to a lawsuit filed by John E. Reid and Associates in an Illinois federal court on Monday, the final episode of the four-part series “falsely disparage and defame Reid.”

The company website touts the method as “the most widely used approach to question subjects in the world.” It was created in 1947 by former Chicago cop John E. Reid. It started as an instructional book on police interrogation tactics. He later formed the company and started offering training based on his own technique. Reid died in 1982.

While John E. Reid and Associates say that the technique is widely used, most law enforcement agencies and critics believe the method is archaic, psychologically damaging and does not yield the best results when trying to nab real criminals. It creates an atmosphere of anxiety and desperation. According to an article in Psychology Today, the tactic puts non-guilty detainees under duress and the line of questioning is “coercive.” The method has been scrutinized because of the overwhelming awareness of false confessions it has yielded.

In 2017, Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates distributed a press release about its discontinuation of using the Reid Technique after 30 years of incorporating it in the company’s training to federal government agencies, local law enforcement agencies and other companies. The decision was based on the false confessions given while using the technique.

The press release can be read here.

The defamation lawsuit against DuVernay and Netflix over “When They See Us” only heightened the inadequacies of the Reid technique.

There are less stressful methods to extract information from guilty criminals.

The Internet Journal of Criminology cited another interrogation tactic that has gained widespread popularity since the early 90s. The PEACE model was developed in the United Kingdom in 1992. PEACE is an acronym for Planning, Engage, Account, Closure and Evaluation.

It’s a non-accusatory, fact-finding approach to investigative inquiries by police. The PEACE method is suitable for any person being questioned whether they are a witness, suspect or victim. Non-confrontational police interactions yield better results.

Though it hasn’t been determined if a federal judge will rule in favor of DuVernay and Netflix in the defamation suit, John E. Reid and Associates may want to rethink its approach to police interrogation training.

Latest News

Boeing building

Boeing Global Services CEO Ted Colbert Named Black Engineer of the Year by ‘US Black Engineer & Information Technology’ Magazine

Originally published at boeing.mediaroom.com. Boeing Company ranked No. 17 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Ted Colbert, president and CEO of Boeing Global Services, has been named Black Engineer of the Year (BEYA) for 2022 by U.S. Black Engineer & Information Technology magazine. The…

map of Iowa

Black Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn Threatened With Lynching After Penning Anti-Trump Op-Ed

An Iowa Democrat has been threatened with violence simply for writing an opinion piece critical of the former president. Brianne Pfannenstiel of the Des Moines Register has reported that “Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn received multiple threats, including one of lynching, after he penned an opinion piece critical of…

Facebook logo

Facebook Forced To Pay a Record $14-Million Settlement for Discriminating Against US Workers

October continues to be a month Facebook likely wishes it could forget. First came Frances Haugen, the whistleblower who explained in chilling detail how the site and its algorithms are designed to profit off what she called “the spread and amplification of hate, misinformation and political unrest.” Then there was…