Netflix recently released a trailer for an upcoming documentary, Murder to Mercy, detailing Cyntoia’s Brown journey from a life sentence for murder to being released last year following a flood of media attention surrounding her case.
In 2004, Brown was a 16-year-old prostitute who shot a 43-year-old man dead in his home after he picked her up at a fast food restaurant. Brown claimed it was self-defense, but she was found guilty of first-degree murder, felony murder, and aggravated robbery, and she was sentenced to life in prison. In 2017, Brown’s case went viral when celebrities including Rihanna, LeBron James, and Kim Kardashian-West began posting her story and calling for clemency. Brown’s sentence was eventually commuted and she was released in August 2019.
It’s a story that hits so many angles: minors in sex work, victim blaming, racial biases, a skewed justice system, and a relatively happy ending. So it’s little wonder why Brown’s story would be a hot commodity for a documentary like Netflix’s.
The only problem with Murder to Mercy is that Brown never authorized it.
Brown recently took to Twitter to address Murder to Mercy, saying, “While I was still incarcerated, a producer who has old footage of me made a deal with Netflix for an unauthorized documentary, set to be released soon. My husband and I were as surprised as everyone else when we first heard the news because we did not participate in any way.”
However, I am currently in the process of sharing my story, in the right way, in full detail, and in a way that depicts and respects the woman I am today. While I pray that this film highlights things wrong in our justice system, I had nothing to do with this documentary. pic.twitter.com/gAACNyJksw
— Cyntoia Brown Long (@cyntoia_brown) April 15, 2020
Brown went on to say that she’s in the process of sharing her story “in the right way” and “in a way that depicts and respects the woman I am today.”
Fast Company has reached out to Netflix for comment.