Film on Central Park 5 helps change public's perception: Part 10

Bill de Blasio became mayor and a $41 million settlement for the teens was reached. New York City admitted no wrongdoing in settling the case.
5:33 | 05/25/19

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Transcript for Film on Central Park 5 helps change public's perception: Part 10
We are at a point where the lawsuit filed by the central park five against the city has been dragging for a decade. The Bloomberg administration steadfastly took the position, the proper one, that in order for the plaintiffs to prevail, they had to show that there was some police misbehavior. Then along comes Sarah burns, and she decides she's going to take a look at the case. I first learned about it in 2003. Had a summer job before my senior year in college, and one of those lawyers who I was working for was just then getting involved in the civil suit in this case. And I was really interested in that historical backdrop for this story, and the sense of the racism in the media coverage. I wrote a book about that case that came out in 2011. And then it became clear that making a film was actually maybe the best way to tell this story. She happens to be the daughter of Ken burns. Ken burns is not just anybody. He's the premier American documentarian. So in 2013, this documentary comes out. And it's made by Sarah burns, Ken burns and David Mcmahon. By interviewing the five, and putting them on camera in a way that they hadn't really been before, I think was a new thing. You won't forget what you done lost. No money can bring the life that was missing. Why me? Cursed god out a couple of times. My faith was gone. I lost seven years of my life. I lost that sense of being youthful. It changed our life. In '89, it was such a media frenzy that we were scared to speak. But now we take the central park five and we wear it as a badge. And people see us for who we are. When the documentary comes out, it succeeds not just in raising what reasonable would consider doubt as to the guilt of the central park five. It raises the possibility that they're actually innocent. That film was made while we had the equivalent of a gag order from a federal judge. We could not speak publicly. The daughter of the filmmaker had worked for the legal team of the five. So I didn't exactly think we'd get a fair hearing. Ken and Sarah burns did this city and this country a huge disservice. They perpetrated this lie, they created this myth of these kids that were railroaded, and that never happened. When that documentary came out, it was a huge deal. I think the documentary really laid the groundwork for some of the steps that occurred afterwards. I think that the moral issue is quite clear. Bill de Blasio is running for mayor in a different New York City. An injustice was done and we have a moral obligation. Here's this scar from the dark days that hasn't healed, the central park case. And he says as a campaign promise, "I'll settle it." They spent a lot of their lives in jail, in prison wrongly. We have an obligation to turn the page. We have an obligation to do something fair for them, for the whole city to turn the page and move forward. A federal judge has approved a $41 million settlement zsh The settlement in this case was $41 million. Most of the defendants each received $7 million. Korey wise received $13 million. This is amazing. Certainly, they were given a substantial amount of money. But they were not given back their good name. It's a classic settlement. On the one hand, the defendants get $41 million, and on the other hand, the city sticks by its cops and prosecutors and says, "We are not going to hang them out to dry. They did not engage in police misconduct. They did not engage in prosecutorial misconduct." I just don't understand a settlement for that kind of behavior. Sorry. That's outrageous. We were ready to go to the supreme court. I so wish that the case hadn't been settled. I wish that it had gone to court because there's a lot of information that's now being released that I'm seeing for the first time. I support the work of law enforcement and prosecutors at the time. They treated me with such dignity and respect. Depending on who you talk to, you'll get a different take on the central park five. Now they're arguably taking a victory lap. Now, it's become a cause celebre to call it the central park five like they were the victims of a crime. So it makes our blood boil. The central park five believed that the system worked against them. Now they're making an effort to change the narrative.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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