The Netflix original series When They See Us tells the real story of a group of five teenagers, known as the Central Park Five, who were wrongfully accused of attacking and brutally raping jogger Trisha Meili.
Over the course of four episodes, the Ava Duvernay-directed series details how Raymond Santana, 14, Kevin Richardson, 14, Antron McCray, 15, Yusef Salaam, 15, and Korey Wise, 16, were arrested and spent years behind bars not because of DNA evidence, but due to coerced confessions, a racist legal system, and law enforcement officers who just seemingly wanted to solve the crime as quickly as possible.
In 2014, the Central Park Five were exonerated after spending between six and 13 years in prison, and awarded a $41 million from the City of New York, but what happened to the cops and attorneys who put them there in the first place?
Here is an update on those responsible for the Central Park Five's unjust arrests and where they are today:
In 1989, Eric Reynolds was a 29-year-old cop who was assigned to the Central Park precinct that night along with his partner, Bobby Powers.
Following the incident involving Trisha Meili, Reynolds arrested Santana, Lopez, and Richardson. At the time, he did not believe that their confessions were coerced, telling the Daily Mail last year, "If they all said the same exact things, then maybe I would think [they were coerced] But they didn’t."
Furthermore, he did not agree with the settlement the young men received and believes to this day that Matias Reyes, who ultimately confessed to the crime and whose DNA was matched to samples at the crime scene, did not act alone.
"The five of them went to Central Park to beat up people and they ended up with millions of dollars and they’re heroes and civil rights icons. It’s appalling," he told ABC News.
He also claims the settlement was politically motivated by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was seeking Al Sharpton's endorsement. "If we had gone to trial in their lawsuit, we wouldn’t be having this conversation because all the facts would have come out," he added. "It would have been clear they participated and Reyes didn’t act alone. The evidence supported it. They did not want to go to trial. They just wanted to get paid."
Today, Reynolds is retired from the NYPD and reportedly writing a book about the Central Park Five.
Portrayed by actor William Sadler in When They See Us, Sheehan was not only involved in the Central Park Five case, but he was also on the team that put Reyes behind bars for the murder of Lourdes Gonzalez.
“It’s really disheartening and disgraceful,” Sheehan said of the settlement. “Anyone who is out there saying that they’re innocent and believing them, shame on them.”
Sheehan retired from the NYPD in 1993 and last made headlines in 2009 when was arrested for refusing to take a breathalyzer test after driving into a NYPD horse while working as a reporter at the time.
He went on to claim the horse ran into him.
The person getting the brunt of the blame when it comes to the Central Park Five case is none other than the head of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Sex Crimes Unit. Portrayed by Felicity Huffman, Fairstein held onto the belief that the teens were involved in the crime, even after Reyes came forward.
"[Reyes] completed the assault,” Linda told The New Yorker in 2002. "I don’t think there is a question in the minds of anyone present during the interrogation process that these five men were participants, not only in the other attacks that night but in the attack on the jogger."
Today, Linda, who went on to become a best-selling author, has had to shut down all her social media accounts after being flooded with criticism and the #CancelLindaFairstein hashtag following the premiere of When They See Us.
There are also petitions for retailers such as Barnes and Noble and Amazon to drop her books from distribution, as well as calls for her publisher Simon & Schuster to drop her as well.
As lead prosecutor on the case, it was determined that Lederer made many mistakes including falsely claiming that a hair found on the victim matched one of the defendants — something that was proven false years later.
Fast forward nearly three decades after the trial, and Lederer is still working as an assistant prosecutor with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and as an adjunct law professor at Columbia University.
The former N.Y. District Attorney is one of the few involved in the case who has admitted to wrongdoing.
"I had complete confidence in Linda Fairstein,” he told the New York Times in 2016. "Turned out to be misplaced. But we rectified it.”
However, many do not believe Morgenthau, who is now 99 years old and retired, did enough to rectify the situation. "Robert Morgenthau’s tenure almost precisely tracked the era of mass incarceration,” Yusuf Salaam’s attorney Ron Kuby said. "He was the dean and he could have used his moral authority to change that trajectory, and he was silent. He was an active contributor to mass incarceration."
He is portrayed in the series by veteran actor Len Cariou.
As an assistant district attorney at the time, Ryan (played by Famke Janssen) was initially assigned to the case when it was presumed that the victim would die from her injuries. After it was established that Meili would survive, the case was taken over by Linda Fairstein.
However, Ryan still played a major role in the Central Park Five's exoneration, and she laid the blame on Reyes rather than the five teens in a court motion.
She went on to lead the office's trial division and worked there for 20 years before stepping down in 2010. Today, she is a criminal justice consultant for the Prisoners Legal Services of New York. She does not talk about the case, but following her departure from the attorney's office she did say, "I think that I’ve accomplished a great deal."
At the time of the Central Park Five settlement, Clements was already working at a Cleveland-based law firm, but as a co-prosecutor for the DA's office at the time of their initial sentencing, he was not happy with Mayor Bill de Blasio's decision.
"We tried the case, we presented the facts and the evidence and both juries convicted,” he said according to the NY Daily News. “The videotaped statements were pretty compelling."
He went to call out Ryan, who led the reinvestigation, for not reaching out to him, despite his involvement. "I was involved in the case from I guess early morning April 20 or 21 on," he added. "I was at the precinct and was very involved in the case from start to finish and she never reached out to me."
According to Tim, who was portrayed on the show by actor Alex Breaux, the Central Park Five did not deserve any settlement from the City of New York. "The facts are the facts," he continued. "It’s unconscionable to me that anyone thinks they were not in the park that night and were not causing mayhem."
Today, Tim is still a partner at the partner at the Cleveland law firm where he practices general corporate law.
You can stream When They See Us on Netflix now.
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