Joshua Jackson, Christopher Jackson and Blair Underwood stopped by the 3rd hour of TODAY to talk about their roles in the upcoming Netflix limited series, "When They See Us." The miniseries, from director Ava DuVernay, tells the story of the five men known as the "Central Park Five," who were arrested in 1989 for the attack and rape of a jogger in Central Park. The men were convicted and incarcerated, but later their convictions were overturned after another man confessed to the crime and his DNA matched.
Linda Fairstein, the former Manhattan prosecutor in the case, gave the following statement to TODAY:
Ava DuVernay's depiction of Linda Fairstein in her Netflix film "When They See Us" is grossly and maliciously inaccurate. It is very clear from the trailer that Netflix and Ms. DuVernay have created a fictional dramatization of events by misrepresenting the facts in an inflammatory and inaccurate manner. Netflix, Ms. DuVernay and the viewing audience would be well served by reviewing the historical record, starting with the fact that at the time of the settlement of the civil suit by the City of New York, District Attorney Cyrus Vance stated: “After more than a decade in which numerous parties have investigated and litigated the case, there has been no finding of wrongdoing or unprofessional behavior by any of the prosecutors involved." Equally important is the fact that as Justice Thomas Galligan ruled in 1990, it was Ms. Fairstein who stopped the police questioning of Yusef Salaam immediately, when his mother told Ms. Fairstein and a detective that her son was 15, not 16, as he himself had claimed when he arrived at the police station. Netflix had an obligation to review all 11 videos made by the young men charged in the park riot in 1989 (available to the public at www.centralpark5joggerattackers.com) as well as all of the evidence gathered in the original police investigation, the 2 trial transcripts, the 2 appellate court decisions affirming the convictions, the 2002 re-investigations conducted by both the NYPD and New York County District Attorney, and the 95 previously sealed depositions from the civil lawsuit, all of which were made available to the public in 2018. As such, Netflix and Ms. DuVernay are doing a terrible disservice to the public, and should be ashamed by their irresponsibility in failing to properly research the film and effectively compromising its accuracy.
Trisha Meili, the woman at the center of the case, also gave the following statement TODAY:
I believe you know that I unfortunately have no memory of the events of April 19, 1989, as a result of the brain injury I suffered in the attack and rape. On the opening title screen of the DuVernay Netflix series, it is positioned as “based on a true story.” I am troubled that the series is not a factual account. As a result of the 2014 Settlement, the City of New York has made available evidence and documents from all trials and investigations. For a more balanced understanding of the actual event, I would direct you to the City’s website www.nyc-cpj.org or an easier to navigate www.centralpark5joggerattackers.com.