For those who may not know, director Ava DuVernay has released her latest film series on Netflix, entitled “When They See Us”. Released on May 31st, 2019, this film tells the story of five teenage boys who were wrongfully accused of a crime that they did not commit. The story was told directly from their point of view. On the night of April 19th, 1989, a large group of teenage boys went to Central Park located in the Northwoods of Manhattan. Trish Meili, a white female jogger was assaulted and raped around this same exact time. The next day, police began to take into custody any suspect that they assumed were involved. Unfortunately, none of these young men were involved at all.
Wise, who was the oldest of the five accused was just 16 years old during the time and served 15 years in prison. He was the only one out the group of boys that was tried as an adult. In all actuality, Wise was nowhere near the incident when it happened. When police took his friend Yusef Salaam into custody, Wise agreed to go with him also being a friend. Not realizing that the police was using Wise and eventually manipulated and intimidated him into confessing to a crime that he did not commit. All of the gentlemen were coerced by police investigators to admit they involved in the crimes of rape, robbery, assault, sexual abuse, and attempted murder.
As mentioned earlier in the title of this article, Wise got the worst end of the deal compared to the rest of the young men who were charged. Wise was not at the park. The policemen took advantage of Wise due to his learning disability. He did not attended school, therefore his reading and writing was poor. They tried him as an adult and each prison he entered in to serve, he experienced brutal beatings from bullying inmates. Even correctional officers knew he was being beaten, but instead ignored him and done nothing to help him.
Wise constantly requested to be in solitary confinement to stay to himself. Although, it saved him from being bullied and beaten, it still affected him mentally. He eventually gets in an altercation with Matias Reyes who was a convicted murderer and serial rapist.
Wise transferred to another prison facility years later after the altercation with Reyes. Reyes notices Wise and tries to talk with him. He apologized to him and he also encouraged Wise. It was later revealed that, Reyes was the actual suspect who assaulted and raped Trish Meili. He confessed to the crime and Wise was released and exonerated along with the other young men who were already released from prison about a decade earlier.
Most of the men now have moved away from New York. They won a lawsuit against the state of New York for a total of $41 million dollars that was split amongst the gentlemen and lawyer fees. Wise, who served the most time resulted in getting $12.2 million dollars. He still continues to live in New York and is an advocate for criminal justice reform.