New York police were so hell bent on finding suspects in the 1989 rape of a white jogger in Central Park that they simply rounded up dozens of random black and Latino teens in the area and hauled them into headquarters for questioning.
“There were 30 some odd kids who went in the park that night and they were sort of loosely affiliated,” said director Sarah Burns, whose documentary “Central Park Five” debuts Tuesday (April 16) on PBS. “You have some kids who knew each other and friends of friends and people who went to school with someone else. And so as you get this large group going into the park, I think many of them didn’t know many of the others.
“One thing that’s sometimes lost in the sense of the Central Park Five is the fact that the police brought in and interrogated nearly all of those kids.”
So how did the cops settle on Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise andYusef Salaam to falsely accuse? Sarah Burns, daughter of “Central Park Five’s” executive producer Ken Burns, explains below.
Burns’ co-director David McMahon added: “None of the five had ever been in trouble with the law, their families had never been in trouble with the law, so when seasoned detectives brought them in for questioning, they were exposed to the techniques that these detectives use so effectively. They were told, ‘If you just tell us what we want you to tell us, you can go home.’ Over 14 to 30 hours of interrogations, they began to break down.”
“The Central Park Five” premieres tomorrow on PBS. Check local listings for airtimes.
Watch the first four minutes below.