When They See Us ending explained: What happened at the end?

When They See Us is available to stream and download on Netflix now. The four-part miniseries, directed by Selma’s Ava DuVernay, looks into the 1989 Central Park assault and rape case known as ’The Central Park Jogger Case.’ Five men – Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana and Kevin Richardson – who were aged 14-16 at the time were wrongfully convicted of violent rape and were exonerated in 2002. The final episode of When They See Us reveals what really happened in the end and who was actually responsible.

What happened at the end of When They See Us?

Korey Wise

The final episode of When They See Us focused largely on Korey Wise (played by Jharrel Jerome), one of the Central Park Five.

The final episode was 90 minutes long and documented Korey’s experience of an adult prison.

Korey served the longest sentence out of all the five boys, spending 11.5 years in jail for a crime he did not commit.

At first, he was not even considered a suspect and was only in the police station to accompany his friend Yusef Salaam (Ethan Herisse/Chris Chalk) who was being questioned by police.

As Korey was 16 at the time of the Central Park jogger case, he was the only one to be tried as an adult.

He was convicted of assault, sexual abuse and riot according to The Innocence Project.

The other four boys were sent to a Juvenile Prison.

The final episode traced the abuse Korey suffered at the hands of prison guards and other inmates, alongside the appalling conditions he was subjected too.

The fourth episode portrays how strong Korey remained throughout this time in prison and always maintained his innocence.

Korey was given numerous parole hearings and was told the hearing could only go ahead if he admitted his guilt for the crime he was (wrongfully) convicted of.

Each time, Korey refused to admit his guilt for something he did not too.


The Confession

The biggest shock to viewers, even those who knew the case well, came towards the final 30 minutes of the episode.

In 2002, Matias Reyes (Reece Noi) who Korey had met previously in Auburn Correctional Facility prison, had confessed to committing the rape and assault on the 28-year-old female on April 19, 1989.

Reyes was already serving life for the rape and murder of another woman.

The revelation came after Reyes was transferred to the same prison as Korey, where the pair crossed paths again.

Reyes had asked Korey if he was still refusing to say he was guilty of the attack, despite having the chance of numerous parole hearings.

Soon afterwards, Reyes confessed to assaulting and raping the jogger and leaving her for dead when he was just 17-years-old.

He also confessed he had acted alone and provided a detailed account of the attack, which was corroborated by evidence from the original case.

His confession led to a re-analysis of the evidence in the case and numerous DNA tests.

At first, the original officers involved in the case and the prosecution team were in denial that another man could have been responsible.

Shortly afterwards, the nature of their interrogations of the young boys and the forced confessions came to light.

Another revelation was that the DNA evidence presented at the trial and the timeline failed to connect boys to the rape in the first place.

The Innocence Project also describes how Mitochondrial DNA testing on the hairs found on one of the defendants revealed that the hairs were not related to the victim or the crime.

Further tests then revealed that the hairs found on the victim herself matched Reyes.

The final 20 minutes of When They See Us, followed the fallout of what happened afterwards, with the news of the boy’s exoneration making headlines across America.


Other key moments

There were some other heart-breaking moments in the final episode of When They See Us.

The romance between Korey and his girlfriend Lisa (Storm Reid) when they were sixteen years old was played out on screen.

Korey replayed the moment in his head when he made the fateful decision to leave his girlfriend and head into the park.

Instead, Korey changes the version of events so, in his memory, he never left her.

Another upsetting moment was when Korey was told his sister Marci (Isis King) had been brutally murdered.

Marci, who was transgender, died before Korey was released from prison.

The final episode traced the abuse Korey is said to have suffered at the hands of prison guards and other inmates, alongside the appalling conditions he was subjected too.

A refreshing moment in the finale of When They See Us was the parental role the guard in the prison played to Korey when he was in solitary confinement, he contrasted greatly with the guards who apparently let the other prisoners attack Korey throughout his time in jail.

In the final moments, Korey was seen going into Kennedy Fried Chicken, where he was having lunch with Lisa in the evening of the Central Park attack.

The final 10 minutes of When They See Us, features text which explains what happened next to the Central Park Five.

In 2002, after Wise, Salaam, McCray, Santana and Richardson were exonerated, the five sued the City of New York for malicious prosecution, racial discrimination and emotional distress.

In 2014, the case was finally settled for $41 million [£32 million], the largest settlement in New York State history.

The real Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana and Kevin Richardson, now men, also appear in the final moments, each individually looking straight into the camera.


Where are the Central Park Five now?

Overall, the Central Park Five spent between six and 14 years in prison across New York.

Their wrongful convictions were vacated in 2002 following the New York District Attorney’s reinvestigation into the Central Park Jogger case.

Antron McCray is married and a father of six, living in Atlanta, Georgia.

Raymond Santana Jr has a teenage daughter named Melleah and lives in Georgia, where he has founded an apparel company called Park Madison, NYC.

His company his named after his hometown of New York City.

Yusef Salaam also lives in Georgia and is married with 10 children.

He is an author and public speaker, fighting for policy change in the American criminal justice system.

Kevin Richardson lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.

When They See Us reveals that Bronx Prep Academy honoured him with a high school diploma, 28 years after his arrest when he was just 14-years-old.

Korey Wise is the only member of the five boys who lives in New York City.

In 2015 he set up the Korey Wise Innocence Project at Colorado Law School, which offers pro-bono legal counsel to those who are wrongfully convicted.

He is also an award-winning activist and public speaker, working closely with The Innocence Project.

When They See Us is streaming on Netflix now

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